Punch's Cousin, Chapter 246

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Let me pass,” Charles growled.

“Why such a hurry, Brother?” Giovanni grinned.

“It doesn’t concern you.” Charles shook his head.

“I think it does,” Giovanni winked. “You’re my brother, Carlo. Everything you do concerns me. I think you’ve fallen in with a bad lot. These wealthy English people, they’re not as charming as they appear.”

“Says you,” Charles grumbled. “I suppose you think that you and your cohorts are better companions?”

“More profitable, for sure.” Giovanni chuckled.

“I’m not interested in profit—not the way you mean. Any wealth I amass in my life will not be dripping with blood.”

“It washes off, Carlo.” Giovanni snorted, shoving Charles back into the mist.

“Giovanni, I don’t want to fight you,” Charles barked.

“Then, don’t.” Giovanni smiled. “We just want to talk with you.”

“We?” Charles asked, pushing his brother’s hand off of his chest.

“Yes, Carlo. This lovely woman and I.”

From out of the mist, Marie Laveau appeared—her grin preceded her body as she emerged from the fog. Charles blinked upon seeing her.

“We meet again, pretty man.” Marie hissed.

“What’s it all about?” Charles asked.

“Your well-being, Brother.” Giovanni laughed.

Meanwhile, deeper in the city, Ulrika and Arthur emerged from the courthouse and stepped out into the fog.

“Are you sure that you don’t want to wait?” Arthur asked.

“Most sure,” Ulrika sighed.

“Iolanthe’s going to be furious to have to wait another night in prison on her own.” Arthur said.

“Are you questioning me?” Ulrika spat.

“No. Believe it or not, I’m looking out for your best interest. When she is released, she’s going to come after you.” Arthur replied sharply.

“Aren’t you precious?” Ulrika chuckled. “Arthur, there’s nothing that can be done about it. The proper authorities have gone home for the evening. We can’t profess Iolanthe’s innocence to some fool guard! It will have to wait until the morning.”

“Shouldn’t we, at least, stop off and tell Iolanthe’s maid—the ugly one…what’s her name?”

“Mala?” Ulrika laughed shrilly. “What could she possibly do? Haunt the prison and frighten the guards?”

“You don’t have to be insufferable.” Arthur muttered.

“Put you in a gentleman’s clothes and you become sensitive.” Ulrika cooed. “It’s too delicious, really.”

“You are a sow.’ Arthur snarled.

“But you want me.” Ulrika murmured into Arthur’s ear.

“Yes.” Arthur replied.

“Then, you shall have me.” Ulrika took Arthur’s hands.

“What? Where?” Arthur shook his head. “Let’s go back to the Cages’ house.”

“No. I don’t feel like sneaking you in. I know where we can go.”

“But, I would prefer to go back to the Cages’.” Arthur argued, thinking of the blue diamond that he hoped to find.

“Why?” Ulrika asked.

“I…I left Gerald there.” Arthur said, hoping that would be enough of a reason to return to Royal Street.

“So?” Ulrika shrugged. “He’s sleeping in the stable. No one will spy him.”

“And if they do? He may not be much, but he’s been loyal and I’ve promised to protect him.” Arthur replied.

“Your attachment to that seedy man is touching.” Ulrika sighed. “I didn’t know you had it in you.”

“I can be loyal when I want.”

“And what of your loyalty to me?” Ulrika whispered.

“I came back to you, didn’t I?” Arthur answered quickly.

“I’m beginning to wonder why.” Ulrika snapped.

At that very moment, in the room within Punch and Julian, Mr. Punch gasped as the space around Naasir’s spirit glowed with a brilliant amber light which crept into the carved nooks and volutes of the ornate adornments around them.

Within seconds, the entire room radiated with the warm color of bronze.

“Coo!” Mr. Punch exclaimed as his body became warm.

Naasir sat—cross-legged—in the center of the room.

“Go to him, Mr. Punch.” Julian whispered.

“Come, Punch,” Naasir smiled. “I wish to tell you a tale.”

Punch sat across from Naasir, looking over his shoulder at Julian. “Are you coming, Master?”

“I know the story already,” Julian said. “I’ve had time to understand it. Now, it’s your turn.”

“I don’t understand.” Punch replied, wide-eyed.

“Listen, and you will know.” Naasir grinned.

“What’s this story?” Mr. Punch asked.

“I’m going to tell you the tale of a boy named ‘Holt’ and the family known as ‘The Cages of Marionneaux.’” Naasir said as the light around him turned from amber to blue. “And, how this will change the world.”

Did you miss Chapters 1-245? If so, you can read them here. ads

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