It took a few hours to assemble all the appropriate dignitaries.
The Viscount Sir Lawrence of Coronado, Physician Royal, was present with his lover, Humphrey, the Principal Royal Wizard. Humphrey was resplendent in his ceremonial robes with a most elegant diamond and ruby brooch. The brooch was one of those marvelous pieces that while, with its deep color and rich sparkle, implied elegant restraint; nevertheless let it be known that it was a very consequential piece. They were accompanied by Wilde, their familiar who was in his usual guise as a suave young fox.
Sir Christian Sanford, Principal Private Secretary to HM the King was present in his accustomed morning suit with a yellow rose boutonniere.
His Serene Highness the Prince Ashmore, Principal Magister, who had first discovered the Raphael was, of course, present; accompanied, in the normal way, by his other half, Sir James Wolsey, Liegeman to HM the King.
Copenhagen, the distinguished familiar of HSH and Sir James Wolsey was present in his contemporary guise as a German Shepherd.
Cameron, the distinguished familiar of HM the King was present in his contemporary guise as a Great Grey Owl.
The Count Alisson of Diego, Foster Father of HM the King, antiquarian, was present in casual work clothes.
Alain and Donnie were present along with Donnie’s two new assistants, all of them in black tie, to attend to any requests or needs.
Sitting next to each other on a burgundy velvet sofa, Cal and Charlie, dressed for dinner at the trattoria, were holding hands in something like wonder.
Arranged around the wall and on a sideboard, were all of the paintings and the poster that Cal had obtained as well as the large brass candlestick.
“Mr Knox,” Gary began somewhat pompously. “Are these all of the items that you took from the shed near your home in Iowa?”
“But there are other items still in that shed. Is that correct?”
Babieca, Hermione, and Minerva are on-scene. There appear to be a number of artifacts of one kind or another in the house, as well as a number of weapons. The site is under complete control at this time. He reported in the usual manner.
“Excellent. One of our decisions tonight will be: do we use the Earth authorities to recover any treasures there, or do we bring them back here?
“Cal, do you know what this is,” and Gary pointed to the candlestick.
“It’s a brass candlestick, sir.”
“Well. Actually it’s solid gold, and it’s what’s called a menorah. I think we can fairly safely assume it was looted from a posh synagogue somewhere in Europe by the narzis.” He smiled and nodded at Dad-o.
“You’re sure that we have everything that you took from that shed in Des Moines here. Correct?”
“Okay gents,” Gary began, “as you know, we’ve one Van Gogh, Portrait of the Artist on the Road to Tarascon, this was last seen in the closing weeks of the war and was believed to be in a vault in Magdeburg under the care of the narzis.
“We have one Raphael, seized by the narzis shortly after the conquest of Poland; one Memling, also a Portrait of a Young Man similar in theme at least to the Raphael. This was last seen being loaded into a German Army truck in 1944; it belongs to the Uffizi in Florence. Then there is one Klimt, Portrait of Trude Steiner, extorted from the family in Vienna after the takeover of Austria. One Bellini, a Madonna and Child, this actually belongs to a Berlin museum but it disappeared in the chaos of the collapse of Germany. And, of course, a solid gold menorah; at this time, we have no knowledge as to the origin of the menorah. It is hallmarked, however, so it should be traceable. But the others, of different subjects, from different ages, in different schools, have one thing in common; all of them came into narzi custody just before or during World War II. They were mis-handled by the narzis and they are all very valuable.
“I would like to have Dad-o, protected by familiars, examine the entire premises where these items came from and make a determination: should we bring them here and arrange restitution, trust the local authorities to handle the situation if tipped-off, or bring some of them here for restitution, leaving some of them in place for the sheriff. Is that agreeable to you Dad-o?”
“Certainly, I could ask for nothing more.”
“Right, Cameron will you arrange travel and protection.”
At once, and with a golden snap flash Cameron and Dad-o were gone.
“So,” and he looked at Cal and Charlie and, despite the pomp and circumstance of the situation, his smile was a merry one. “That leaves the two of you.”
Humphrey stepped forward. “Well Knox, here, is a problem. He’s a self-taught Earth wizard and is a disaster looking for a place to happen. Several major Earth cities, many years apart to be sure, were almost leveled by fire: London and Chicago, and both of these fires were caused by amateur sorcerers. Additionally, a massive earthquake struck Tokyo in the 1920’s which also led to tremendous fire. But the earthquake itself was caused by an amateur sorcerer, now the esteemed Master Abe no Seimei, but then just feeling his power in his fourth incarnation. Puberty, you know.
“Knox, here, thought he was using the simple transportation spell, when in fact he was using the inter-dimensional transit spell; another such mistake could be fatal. What if he’d been thinking of the moon?
“You know, Knox, the first spell in the Tacitus is to summon a familiar. It’s first for a reason and you should have used it!
“Young people these days, you just wonder. However do we get along?
“Anyway, the Wizards Guild is grateful that we have recovered another one of the Tacitus texts, we will grant young Knox here a finder’s fee of £1000, but there are still several out there; nevertheless, young Knox here must be trained or his talent nullified so that he can return to Earth without being an ambulatory catastrophe looking for a site.” Humphrey smiled with evident satisfaction. He had enjoyed his speech.
“Oh sir,” gasped Cal. “Please,” both he and Charlie were spectre white.
“Don’t worry,” continued Humphrey. “We’ll just neutralize your wizardly ability and return you to Duluth, and you can carry on with life. No problemo.” Humphrey smiled widely, pleased with his mastery of street slang.
“Oh, for crissake!” Lawrence interjected, “Surely, sweetheart, you can see that they’re in love!”
“Er,” Humphrey looked around absently. “Love?”
“Okay, we’re not going to try and manage that,” Gary decided. “Neither are we going to interfere with that. I think we need to assign a familiar to young Master Knox. We need to let him and our valiant postman here work out their own affairs. However, Knox is a danger to himself, and others, and he’s going to have to have training as required by the Guild. He can’t just go back to Idaho and be left to his own devices.”
“Iowa,” a small voice interjected.
Gary smiled, “Iowa. Copenhagen let’s keep this simple. Have a familiar take Knox here, home to Iowa and keep an eye on him. He’ll have to decide if he wants to be trained to his gift, or neutralized. I suspect that he and Charles will want to discuss this.
“Donnie, drop young Charles here, off at his home.
“The two of you are to behave normally for the next few days while we get everything sorted out. I don’t want your parents panicked. But I do want you to talk to each other. Be discreet. But talk. What do you want and where do you want it?”
There was another snap flash and for a second a large stallion stood in the room. There was a second flash and Cal and Babieca were gone.
“Come along then,” Donnie escorted Charlie away. “The mail must go through.”
Douglas Knox was reading the newspaper and enjoying his pre-dinner vodka martini; it had two olives. Becky Knox, his wife, was also enjoying her vodka martini. They both thought that two olives were a delicious extravagance. They were extra-large and stuffed with pimento. However, they never had more than one martini.
Caleb was sprawled on the floor reading Cicero in Latin. The Tacitus had been a wonderful learning tool. But some wizard had inserted the magical text into the original thus, apparently, hiding the magic text in a history book on the bookshelf in plain sight. He looked up with interest when his father started talking about the Nazi war criminal that had been their neighbor for years. “Who’d a thought it,” he rattled his paper. “There were guns, and bullion, and all kinds of documents. What a thing. Says here he was something called a ‘sturmbannfuhrer’ in the ‘waffen SS’.
“Does that make sense to you Caleb?”
“Well, the waffen SS were combat soldiers, but one could move around in the SS. It was a big organization with lots of branches.”
“Was he one of those war criminals,” Becky wondered. “You know, like that auto worker in Detroit who ran a death camp?”
“I must think so. He was certainly lying low and inconspicuous all these years.
“Probably not a big shot like Eichmann, but not just a soldier, neither.”
There was a golden snap flash and a small animal and a neatly dressed young man with the most remarkable ears were standing in the center of the living room.
Hi. I’m Rikki. I’m your familiar. You don’t need to worry about any venomous serpents. I’ll not have ’em about. But I won’t bother the other ones. They’re good for the ground, like. Lizards too. Keep the bugs down.
This is Charles. He’s an Elve and is Cal’s best friend.
I imagine you’re surprised, then; I would be were I you. Lots more surprises to come. Didn’t know Cal was a wizard did you? He’ll be off to school. Nothing like Hogwarts. Way better. Not to worry about no tuition, neither. He’ll be on a full wizardship.
Why don’t you fix another martini. I’ll have one too.
We have a great deal to talk about. So let’s start.