Objet de Belazel

Armand’s First Letter. Amelia’s First Letter.

17 Rue Thomas, Toulouse, Provençe
29 November 1016

My dearest cousin Armand,

I could relate to you many commonplace details about my daily life this past three weeks: that I continue my studies with Dr. Laguerre; that I have tea daily with my particular friend Janine Allard; that Maximilian continues as thick as thieves with Jérôme Lavigne. But these things have changed not a whit from the previous interval; nor have I have ended any wars, nor added any craters to the grounds of L’École (or anywhere else). With that summation you shall have to rest content, for I have something of greater moment to tell you, and an invitation to proffer to you and Amelie.

In my last I spoke of how Maximilian and Jérôme had been investigating the ley lines in the vicinity of Toulouse. They were looking for evidence that the places where ley lines meet are, or rather were, nodes in the sense that Cumbrian wizardry uses the term; but though they had had found evidence of nodal residue in several places, the actual nodes appeared to have been purposefully destroyed at some time in the distant past.

Except in one spot: at the statue of Le Roi Guillaume III in La Place de Provençe, here in Toulouse. But though they could discern the presence of a node they could not investigate more closely; firstly because the statue is surrounded by a wide flower bed of the sort upon which one simply cannot trespass without attracting undue attention, and secondly because the flower bed had recently become covered in deep drifts of snow.

What was clear neither the statue nor its plinth were the node itself, and that the node proper was not exposed to view. They concluded that the statue’s base had been built over and around the node, burying it completely; and to this they attributed its survival.

You might think that was that; but you have not reckoned with the curiosity of a pair of wizards on the hunt. Or perhaps you have, for it seems to me that you share it in your own way.

And so—the pair of them wished to know more about the construction of the statue. Inquiries resulted in the discovery that the city of Toulouse has a Bureau des Monuments, charged with the maintenance and upkeep of all city monuments and grand squares; and word from the head of L’École was enough to get the pair of them an invitation to meet with M. Lazare, the Directeur du Bureau des Monuments. Naturally I joined them.

If the directeur’s title is grand the Bureau itself is not, for it is housed in an absurdly plain structure on a back street, and its proximity to the halls of power is due only to the proximity of the various monuments to those same halls. As M. Lazare speedily assured us, his people are mostly gardeners and cleaners; they are not involved in the construction of new monuments, nor do they keep the historical records.

Still, M. Lazare was pleased to serve us cheap sherry in very small glasses, and listened eagerly to M. Lavigne as he told his tale.

“I wonder,” he said, rubbing his chin, when Jérôme had done. “Some of the larger statues, those with gardens, have a locked closet built into the base—for the storage of spades and rakes, n’est-ce pas? We do not use them, for it is easier for the workers to carry their tools with them. But it may be that Guillaume III has such a closet. It is many years since I tended the monuments myself, you know, but I think it might. And if it does, perhaps we might look, and see what we see.”

With that he bent over and withdrew a box from the very back of the bottom drawer of his desk, not without some struggle.

“My predecessor handed this to me and told me to keep it safe,” said M. Lazare. “He had never needed it, nor had his predecessor, but if one were to lose it—” and here M. Lazare gave a massive shrug.

We solemnly agreed that one would require it the moment one misplaced it, for of course one would. Don’t you agree?

Placing the box on the desk in front of him he opened it, and started to remove keys. Most were large, of antique appearance; a paper tag was attached to each by means of a string.

“These are all most horribly faded,” he said as he sorted through them. “I fear I shall have to make new ones.”

At last he removed a key, larger and more ornate than most of the others, which, as he showed us, was labeled Guillaume III, P de Provençe.

“As I thought,” he said.

We made arrangements to investigate on the next clear day. And at noon on that day the three of us met M. Lazare and two of his men in the Place de Provençe.

“It is right there,” said one of the men, pointing across a snowy expanse of shrubbery; and the two of them quickly cleared a path, shoveling snow vigorously until they revealed a lintel and a verdigris’d bronze door.

M. Lazare solemnly held up the key, tag dangling, and a can of oil. Opening the door took him several minutes, and several applications of the oil can; and also a certain amount of digging by the workmen, for the bottom of the door proved to be blocked by the soil of the flower bed.

I had envisioned a darkened chamber, perhaps with stairs descending into a dank and spider-filled crypt, but I was to be disappointed; for we found nothing but a dank space perhaps four feet by four feet, with stone floor and walls much encrusted with mold.

But though I was disappointed, Maximilian and Jérôme were not: for once the workmen had scraped away the mold with their shovels we could see that the back wall was not made of the same warm yellow stone as the rest of the base. Rather it was the gray of cement; and embedded in the bottom of this wall, and protruding some inches at the base, was a block of reddish stone, its sharply defined edges rising and moving inwards until they vanished beneath the gray.

Jérôme looked at Maximilian, who went at laid his hand on the reddish stone. At once he nodded. “Yes, this is it; this is the node. Come see.” Jérôme joined him, and laid his own hand on the stone, and he turned and looked me, his eyes wide.

C’est un objet de Belazel!” he exclaimed.

And now you will see why we wish you to come to Toulouse, you and your Amelie and your new packet; for you will recall that the wizards of L’École have determined that your craft of forming is no less than the lost wizardly Stream of Belazel.

Do come! For there is a great mystery here, and do believe it will take the three of you working together to unravel it.

Your importunate cousin,


Next letter.


Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

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