08 February 2011 @ 08:50 am
The Queen's Magicians: Eternal Silences (3/4)  
Enter your cut contents here.Title: Eternal Silences (3/4)
Author: Emma
Characters: Canonical Torchwood Three members… sort of.
Rating: Some chapters definitely not safe for work.
Disclaimer: Oh, please. If I owned them, would I let some of those idiots write the scripts? And if I were making any money off them, would I be where they could find me?
Summary: Someone is playing with life and death in Cardiff, and Doctor Owen Harper is fed up with it all
Author's Note: This is Meat. And it's nothing like it. Although there’s food involved….
Author's Note: The eternal silence of these infinite spaces fills me with dread. Blaise Pascal
Author's Note: in this “alternative history”, The Rock of Cashel is still under the control of the Eóganachta, the great Royal Dynasty of Muman (and Jack's cousins), who, by treaty, must marry a princess of the Tuatha de Danann; legend has it that somewhere in the Rock there's a door that leads to the Tuatha kingdom...

Part One is here; Part Two is here

Owen watched Kathy Swanson pace. Her rage washed over him, making his nerve endings tingle. It was pushing all his buttons, and he could feel his own emotions surging. He noticed that Ianto was keeping to the other side of the Hub, well out of direct empathic contact. He tightened his shields as much as he could and tried to wait it out.

“Ten thousand pounds,” he heard her whisper as she passed in front of him again. “Going price for pain, sorrow, and the possibility of eternal damnation. When I get my hands on those two...”

“Kathy,” Jack said as he came downstairs, Gwen right behind him, “if you wear a hole in my floor I'm going to bill the repairs to the Episcopal slush fund.”

She whirled around, obviously spoiling for a fight, but something in his look stopped her cold. She took a deep breath, shaking herself as if physically shaking the anger off, eyes widening as she took in their protective stances.

“Mother of God. I'm so sorry. Are you all all right? Ianto?”

“Don't worry. I kept well away and happily occupied.” He made a small offering gesture with the loaded tray he was carrying. “Fresh coffee and white chocolate almond truffles, lightly warmed.”

She snatched one and bit into it, closing her eyes with voluptuous pleasure as she chewed. “You are definitely on the path to beatification.” She took the hand over the chocolate and nobody gets hurt mug Ianto had designated as hers and sipped. “Forget that. Straight to canonization.”

He chuckled as he set down the tray and passed out coffee and plates to everyone. “I don't think the Church is quite ready for me. Speaking of which... Jack?”

“Gwen and I spoke to the Bishop, the Lord Cardinal, the Chief Rabbi, the Head of the Council of Islam, and the Speaker for the Circles.” Jack slumped gracefully down next to Owen. “Not to mention Gwen's godmother. Everyone has agreed. We can handle this is any way we see fit.”

“Well, that's a relief,” Kathy said. “My Lord Cardinal can be a stroppy git at times.”

“He was, shall we say, aware of the negative connotations of two blokes selling resurrection services from street corners.” Gwen gave them her best high-voltage grin. “He was even polite to me.”

“Give it a year and you'll be the official Torchwood liaison to the religious communities,” Jack grinned at her gobsmacked expression. “Hey, you thought I hired you for your pretty face?”

Everyone laughed. Gwen stuck her tongue out at Jack. “Prat.”

Andy offered the truffles to Tosh, who looked at them dubiously. “Come on. One more won't hurt, and you know you want to.” He set down the plate in front of her and picked up a sheaf of papers. “Tosh and I have been looking into Vic and Greg Cunnick. Cousins. Raised together by Vic's parents after Greg's family was killed in a traffic accident. Family left Ireland and settled here when Vic and Greg were still very young. Both typical lads from Splott. Manual work and pretty crimes. Then seven months ago they went on an extended vacation to Ireland. When they came back they set themselves up in the warehouse district. Wholesale produce.”

“And resurrections,” Ianto said, deadpan. “For ten thousand pounds a job.” He frowned. “Doesn't that strike anybody as odd?”

“You could say everything about it is odd, Tea-Boy,” Owen snarked.

“Ha. Ha.” Ianto's voice was absolutely flat. “I mean the amounts. They could be selling their services to people with very deep pockets and bad habits to match. These are greedy, immoral little piglets, but they're limiting themselves to a few measly thousands when they could be making millions. Any one of us could come up with the name of someone right here in Cardiff who would pay ten times the asking price.”

Jack sat up slowly. “It’s stolen. They’ve managed to steal a Quintessence.”

Ianto nodded. “There are very few such powerful objects, and the people who guard them aren’t exactly what I would call forgiving. I wonder why they didn't just run to America or Australia.”

“Maybe because whatever they're using wouldn't work very well there,” Tosh blurted, and blushed a little as everyone turned towards her. “I've been reading a little magical theory. Cultures like the Native-Americans and the Aboriginal Peoples are based on radically different world views from the European, so their magic is inherently different, even if the manifestations are similar. It works more or less the same with the Asian cultures, but there's been so much contact between Europe and Asia over millennia that the magics can... tolerate each other. The North American Union and the Californian Republics might be even worse, because the amount of intermarriage between immigrants and Native Americans is creating a completely new magical... map. I'm making a hash of explaining this,” she sighed.

“No, you're not. You're on the right track, but you’re missing some information. A Quintessence is sentient, and it tends to prefer to keep close to its native soil,” Jack said. “It might even take measures to protect itself. They might have tried to leave and.... Tosh?”

“I'm on it.” Her hands flew over the keyboard. “Got it. Victor and Gregory Cunnick bought tickets to New York six months ago on the Cunard Princess Adenydd, sailing out of Cardiff.”

“Couldn't risk planes?” Andy asked. “Or couldn't afford the freight?”

“What happened?” Kathy asked.

“The day before sailing, Vic was in a car accident . Hospital for two weeks. They tried again a week after he came out. The Princess Margaret this time. There was a fire. Their home nearly burned down. Both of them in hospital for smoke inhalation.” She grinned. “They seem to have given up after that.”

“I would have too.” Andy grinned back. “So they're stuck in Cardiff.”

“And much too close to whoever the original owner is. They don't dare call attention to themselves.” Ianto said. “But they couldn't resist picking up a few thousands.”

“The question is,” Owen tried to keep his voice level. “What the hell is it that they've got. There can't be too many things that bring the dead back to life.”

“Not many.” Kathy said. “We Christians believe there are some people who have had, at a specific moment, the ability to request God's intervention, and some of them have healed the sick and cast out demons. Raising the dead is not something so easy. There are stories, of course, but not very many confirmed. Relics, maybe, but even then....” She shook her head. “The only thing that comes to mind is the Grail. But even that is in question. There are no religious sources for the story, you know.”

“After I met Tommy I did some research into the Grail legends. I seem to remember,” Tosh said, “that there's a pagan object that is supposed to be the true inspiration behind the Grail. A... cauldron?”

Gwen, who had been tossing back the last of her coffee, choked as she tried to keep it from spraying everyone seated near her. Ianto smacked her sharply between the shoulder blades and held a napkin to her nose as coffee leaked out.

“Jack?” She rasped once she had her breathing under control.

“Yeah. That might be a problem.” Jack's fingers beat a rapid tattoo on his knee. “Can we ask?”

“I don't know that they would tell us,” she said. “It's not the sort of thing you tell an outsider. You have contacts in Eire. There might something at that end.”

“Can you two let us in on the secret?” Owen said with false politeness.

“Sorry,” Gwen said. “The Tuatha de Danann have four treasures. The sword of Nuada, that no one can escape once it is drawn; the Spear of Lug, that makes its holder invincible; the Stone of Fal, that cries out when the true King sits on it; and the Cauldron of the Dagda, that never runs empty.”

“And?” Owen prompted, barely keeping a hold on his temper.

“And during a battle, the Cauldron could be used to bring back the dead soldiers so they could fight again.”

“Mary Mother of God,” Kathy said. “I should have remembered it. Of course I should have remembered it. There's a even a legend that those that returned were mute so they could not reveal what they had seen in the afterlife.”

“Now that we know, we can figure out the rest later,” Owen said impatiently. “We need to get to Vic and Greg before they pull the resurrection stunt again. It hurts them, damm it. Dilys Williams is nearly out of her mind with pain and fear. We need to find them, we need to stop it, and more importantly, we need to find out how to reverse what's happening. How do we go about it?”

“I checked the warehouse,” Tosh said. “Security is crap. I can override all their passwords from here. But I am wondering... Jack, if they’re using that cauldron, how did they get hold of it? I don’t think you could just walk into Cashel and take it.”

“No. And even if they could, it could summon the Dagda himself for protection.” Jack took a deep breath. “Tosh, open an outside line, please. Use my personal phone book. Under C. Caoilfhionn, private.”

In a few seconds a female voice came through the speakers. “Jack?”

Jack launched into a long speech in Gaelic. Owen looked at Ianto, Gwen, and Andy in turn. Three don't ask me shrugs later let Owen know that whatever Jack was speaking was not modern Irish, Welsh, or Scots Gaelic. They waited until Jack switched back to English.

“My lady, may I present Kathy Swanson, Chief Investigator to the Bishop of Cardiff. Toshiko Sato, Torchwood technologist and speaker-to-animals. Gwen Cooper, medium and investigator. Doctor Owen Harper, doctor and Healer. And of course, you know Andy Davidson and Ianto Jones. Everyone, the Lady Caoilfhionn of the Eóganachta Aine, princess of Muman.”

“A very minor one, I assure you.” Owen could hear the amussement in her voice. “Hello, Ianto. When are you bringing my scapegrace of a cousin to visit?”

“Soon, my lady.”

“I will hold you to it, then. Jack has told me of your situation. I am sorry to say I might be about to make it worse.”

Owen snorted. “We're Torchwood, ma'am. Worse is only a matter of degrees around here.”

This time she laughed. “I suppose so, doctor Harper. Still this is on the catastrophic end of worse, I'm afraid. The item you are looking for was taken from Cashel about seven months ago. The Keeper of the Treasures did not inform the family until very recently. In other circumstances we would have told Jack immediately, but grandfather forbade it.”

“Grandfather?” asked Kathy.

“The original owner of the item. He is old and set in his ways.” She seemed fondly amused. For a moment Owen wondered about the kind of person who would talk about one of the most powerful Lords of the Tuatha as merely a favorite grandfather. “He decided to go look for it himself .”

“If I may ask, ma'am,” Toshiko said. “How did it go missing? Your security is legendary.”

The Lady's voice hardened. “It is hard to protect against honored guests. Seven months ago we received a delegation from the Court of Queen Mab, headed by her granddaughter, the Lady Jasmine. We housed and fed them as befitted their station. This was our payment.”

The name sent shockwaves through her audience. “Jasmine was there?” Gwen gasped.

“Indeed. She spoke highly of you, Jack.”

“She hates my guts.”

“I thought so, but in diplomatic circles that is the sort of lie one accepts. The Lady Jasmine and her entourage spent quite a lot of time touring the countryside, and did not seem in any hurry to leave. Then suddenly they packed and left within a day, claiming there was need for them back in Scotland. One of my ladies, who was present in the Great Hall that morning, says the Lady Jasmine was in a towering rage.”

“God almighty,” Andy said. “Don't tell me those two idiots stole the thing from her!”

“I believe,” the Lady Caoilfhionn's voice turned even harder and icier. “That the proper interpretation would be that she arranged for them to steal it and then they reneged on the deal. One more thing. Our Ambassador to the Scottish Courts tells us that the Lady Jasmine has dropped out of the usual round of entertainments. She is said to be resting after her trip.”

Jack snorted. “On her way to Cardiff, more likely. And so is the Dagda. If he decides to hand Jasmine the punishment she deserves, Mab is likely to use it as an excuse for war.”

“Then I would suggest that you take steps to get your hands on the cauldron as soon as it may be. You know what they say about possession being nine tenths of the law.”

( Post a new comment )
milady_dragon[personal profile] milady_dragon on February 8th, 2011 05:50 pm (UTC)
Oh, I was wondering if they were using the cauldron. (Coincidentally, I just rented "The Black Cauldron" on DVD!) That was about the only thing that made sense to me. Oh Jasmine, silly child...

St. Ianto? I think Kathy's on the right track there. He could be the Patron Saint of Coffee and Suits. *grins* Although, I do believe there is already a Patron Saint of Coffee and Coffeehouses...
Merucha[personal profile] merucha on February 9th, 2011 12:29 am (UTC)
Yep. Saint Drogo, who is also the patron saint of unattractive people and midwives (don't ask, I don't know!). So.. we need a new saint of coffee!
milady_dragon[personal profile] milady_dragon on February 9th, 2011 02:58 am (UTC)
Well, I do have a bit of trouble keeping serious about a saint that Frodo Baggins' father was named after...

I just noticed...you went back to calling this series "The Queen's Magicians". I'm not very observant apparently...
Merucha[personal profile] merucha on February 9th, 2011 02:08 pm (UTC)
Some people complained the switch was confusing, so... And yes, the name is amusing. And even funnier is that the poor saint is actually quite hopelessly UNrelated to coffee in any way!
http://fide_et_spe.livejournal.com/[identity profile] fide_et_spe.livejournal.com on February 8th, 2011 05:56 pm (UTC)
I am so happy that you posted this. I love this chapter. I also think that white chocolate almond truffles deserve canonisation. You really made my mouth water with that.

I love your characters, it's lovely, because you do use their canon characteristics, but just take it all up a notch.

Merucha[personal profile] merucha on February 9th, 2011 12:31 am (UTC)
They do, don't they? I just noticed how dessert-inclined this whole AU is!

And I'm so glad you like the characters. For me, that was the main event in Torchwood. How are these people going to interact?
Midori[identity profile] midori-marmotte.livejournal.com on February 8th, 2011 07:00 pm (UTC)
Weeee, a new chapter! Your writing is great.

I like to read this AU, because when I stumble upon a bit of mythology I do not know, I take a moment to check about it, and it is always extremely interesting!
Merucha[personal profile] merucha on February 9th, 2011 12:32 am (UTC)
Thank you. The mythology is always there when I need it; I used to read it obsessively for years! So it was a natural for the purpose.
cen_sceal: RAF pilot[personal profile] cen_sceal on February 8th, 2011 07:12 pm (UTC)
This is just amazing. I adore your ability to blend all of these differnt types of legends together and mesh them so well with TW. I love Tosh's observations about the different types of magic. I also love the hints about personalities given by Ianto's treats.

Thanks for sharing this :)
Merucha[personal profile] merucha on February 9th, 2011 12:33 am (UTC)
Thank you! *blushes* The whole Tosh speech just poured out. It was "background" I didn't know I had!
rhianona: susan[personal profile] rhianona on February 8th, 2011 08:17 pm (UTC)
Nice. I like that you bring back Jasmine for this plot. I also enjoy the interconnection of the various religions here. Kathy is always a fun person to have around.
Merucha[personal profile] merucha on February 9th, 2011 12:33 am (UTC)
Well, she was sitting there, waving her hands at me, saying Im a good villain, I'm a good villain *grin*
ladycat1170: mad smarts[personal profile] ldycat1170 on February 9th, 2011 02:47 am (UTC)
As usual your writing is tight and epic. I love the AU you created and I can't wait for .ore
Merucha[personal profile] merucha on February 9th, 2011 02:08 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
[personal profile] chironsgirl on February 12th, 2011 03:42 am (UTC)
So Owen has already met "Grandfather", hasn't he? Grandpa has come to fetch back his favorite soup pot, and if the world is wise it will duck to avoid the ruckus.
Merucha[personal profile] merucha on February 20th, 2011 02:08 am (UTC)
Well, the world is at the mercy of Torchwood getting to the idiots in time!
[identity profile] janiemc.livejournal.com on February 19th, 2011 10:23 am (UTC)
So happy to see more of this TW, favourite boys mixed with celtic mythology and magical gifts = smiles & coffee in hand
Merucha[personal profile] merucha on February 20th, 2011 02:07 am (UTC)
I think you should know I write them coffee in hand, too...