Enter the Darkness
Following the fight in the warehouse, Karl and the monks descended to help me free my family and patch me up. The monks, it turned out, were part of what the Order called a clean-up crew. The human bodies were all piled into a large truck and driven off to an incinerator. The werefoxes (which had all reverted to their human shapes) and the hounds were all left to explain my wounds and the assault on the townhouse. The vampire bodies (after we killed those sleeping in the basement) were all carried out to the suddenly (and to me, suspiciously) sun-filled street, where they promptly flared and turned to ash. The demon was wrapped up in a body bag and hauled away for study. Apparently they had never gotten an intact demon body to study.
We were in the patching up phase (the bodies all having been disappeared) when we heard sirens. Karl quickly fed William, Grandmother, Lady Ancen, and me the story that was decided upon when the calls between Eoin and Lars occurred last night. Amazingly, it was actually something approaching the truth. Thinking I would be responsible if anything happened to the hostage, I took weapons I had collected as part of my interest in Asian culture and martial arts instilled in me by my Australian family. With them, I proceeded to Stanraer and then to Belfast alone, as the note left by the kidnappers ordered.
That much was true. What followed in the story is where it veered off into fantasyland. Once here, the kidnappers tried to get me to access my trust fund and inheritance accounts to buy my family's release. Knowing we would all be dead if I did, I attacked the men holding my grandmother, cousin, and aunt captive, killing the kidnappers in my attempt to free them all. The men were members of a provo-IRA splinter faction trying to fund their cause via kidnapping wealthy and connected British citizen. I was not happy blaming everything on Irish Catholics (being half Irish Catholic myself), but those were the bodies we had to work with. And dead men refute no tales.
Or something like that.
Before the sirens arrived, the monks split, taking the leprechaun's sword with them to be returned to me at a safer time and place. Karl was pretty sure the authorities would want to at least take my weapons into evidence and Alexandrios' sword would match many of the wounds on the bodies left behind.
The sirens, as it turned out, were Eoin and everyone he cold beg, bully, or threaten. There were Northern Irish constabulary, Scotland Yard, MI5, MI6, British military, and a few guys who prowled around the warehouse without ever clearly identifying themselves aside from flashing identification from the Office of the Lord Chancellor. They tagged and bagged the bodies after photographing everything. They even confiscated my weapons like Karl said they would with talk of charges for numerous violations of the Criminal Justice Act of 1988. Eoin sent them away with a promise that his solicitor (read: lawyer) would handle the matter. The blood from the bodies outside was apparently washed away by the downpour, as were the ashes since the rain returned shortly after the vampire corpses vanished in a flare of fire and ash. Everyone and everything going into or coming out of the warehouse got thoroughly soaked. This was probably good for me since it contaminated a lot of the evidence.
Once he was sure the police were not going to haul me off to the local gaol, Eoin fussed over William and me almost equally. Grandmother and Lady Ancen fussed but they were more subdued. They had questions, that much was obvious. Those questions, also obviously, would have to wait until we were back home. They both had been around Eoin and his job-related security enough to understand there was a right time and place for questions and explanations. This was neither.
The immediate fallout was ... embarrassing to say the least. Some of Eoin's social and political friends got wind of what happened. He swore he had nothing to do with it but it rather effectively eliminated the need for solicitor involvement. I was summoned to appear before the Queen. Elizabeth II, hearing of my "heroism in the face of terrorist," decided to take concrete action to show her support of my actions. She sat me down and extolled my bravery and informed me that "to the extent it is in our power to do so, we will assure the little minds that seem to populate the offices of our government shall not use your acts of courage to imprison such an astounding example of English fortitude in the face of barbarism." To that end my name, along with Eoin's, Grandmother's, William's, and Lady Ancen's, was leaked to the media as guests of Queen Elizabeth II as was the fact that the rank of Knight Commander in the Royal Victorian Order was being conferred upon me, though the exact reason for this was being kept secret. The news hounds were unhappy with the lack of information, so they seemingly began inventing things. The closest story they came up with was that I saved the former British Consul General of New York (Eoin) and the rest of my family from foreign powers. Pretty close, no? Seemed to me like a leak job meant to put even more pressure on the constables who had been talking weapons charges after Belfast.
So Dame Alice Spencer-Killdare was knighted in a semi-public ceremony by Queen Elizabeth II. Talk about bloody awkward. I think if she ever got wind of who I truly was and what the real story was, I would be booked into a room in the Tower of London until the ravens no longer flocked there. And that would be a very long time since they practically hand feed the beasties.
After all of the pomp and circumstance was done and we had a quiet weekend alone, Grandmother and Lady Ancen arrived early one Saturday a couple of weeks later on a lovely mid-July day. The sun was shining, though it was not unbearably warm. The birds were cheerfully chirping as they flitted about the grounds and the smell of apple blossoms from the orchard drifted on the air.
I woke that morning with a feeling of dread. As I quickly dressed, I was pleased that all of my wounds were healing nicely. A few were even to the point of starting to fade into barely noticeable scars. Leaving my room in search of breakfast, I heard voices in animated discussion coming from the kitchens. Ambrose and Paul. Eoin and William. And Grandmother and Lady-I mean, Elizabeth. I could no longer get away with not calling her by her first name (after the knighting thing she put her foot down about that). I tried to hear what was said as I walked downstairs but the new door on the kitchen must have been mostly closed. It was practically soundproof when completely shut.
" ... had not choice, Elizabeth! What would you have done in her father's place? Would you have had the courage to give William into the hands of a virtual stranger? The good Sergeant-Major McKiernan did! I could do no less than honor that trust as best as I could!" Eoin was saying as I walked into the kitchen unnoticed. Why they were in the kitchen and not the dining room probably had to do with the soundproof door. There were no cooks or maids or security present, making me think this was perhaps best left to the adults, though William was silently sitting at the breakfast bar with Grandmother.
I tried to slowly back out of the kitchen unnoticed but William foiled that with a cheery, "Good morn, Alice!"