About The Magician: An Andromache Jones Mystery
“I am about to set you a challenge, Miss Jones, one that has very real life and death consequences.”
Andromache Jones has somehow managed to capture the attention of The Magician and finds herself caught up in The Game, his challenge that has very real life and death consequences, and not only for her. Can she complete the test he has set in the allotted time and live to see another day, or will failure, and The Magician triumph?
Read Chapter 1 Here or find the Index to All Chapters Here
Mac pulled out of The Black Horse Inn’s car park and continued on the road heading away from Market Higham. She was at a loss as to what she was supposed to be looking for. The panic she had felt earlier quickly changed to numbness. She was beginning to think that it was The Magician’s plan all along to see her fail.
Then she thought she saw something strange in a field to the side of the road. When she found a place to pull over, she got out and ran back to the field, covering a distance of about a quarter of a mile. She walked over to the gate and peered in. Halfway up, in the middle of the farmer’s crop, appeared to be a red balloon.
Her intuition hitherto had been spot on. She had been guided to take the right roads and turnings, and led to the balloons that she could so easily have missed. She sent up a silent prayer thanking the Lady and hoping that neither she, nor her intuition, would desert her just yet.
Mac climbed up and over the fence, careful not to do herself an injury, and then broke out into a run between the rows of plants. She pulled up sharp, breathing hard when she reached the balloon, which was tethered to the spot by a heavy stone. Mac picked up the rock and found hiding beneath it another envelope, which she quickly opened.
Sacrificed was she to the Huntress
Virgin goddess of the moon
Sentenced to pay for others mistakes
Failure will surely lead to her doom
The words danced before her eyes. This can’t be happening. I need to get back to the car. The new riddle went round and round in her head. She knew immediately who had been buried alive.
The women of Mac’s maternal line were always given ancient Greek names; the reason for it wasn’t important, but it had meant she had a very good grasp on Greek mythology. It was no hardship for Mac to decipher The Magician’s riddle; the words spoke of Iphigenia, the daughter of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra. Agamemnon had offended Artemis, the virgin goddess of the hunt and moon. In order to placate the goddess and banish the ill-fortune that was stalking him, he offered to sacrifice his daughter, Iphigenia, to her.
Iphigenia was Andromache’s grandmother’s name.
Mac stumbled her way back to the car, tears flowing freely down her face. She tripped and fell; she grazed her knees and her hands in an attempt to break her fall. She sobbed; one time she even screamed, but she no longer cared. She needed to find her grandmother. She needed to save her grandmother.
The return trip seemed to take ten times as long; she knew fear of failure was playing with her mind now that the focus of The Game had a name and a face. The name and face of one of the people who had helped raise her; who had taught her the tarot.
When she reached the car, she fell into the driving seat. She knew she needed to get going, but again, she had no idea of where to go. She didn’t know if she had enough energy or control to use the pendulum again; her hands wouldn’t stop shaking. It was then that she noticed another envelope tucked under the windscreen wiper.
For a minute she sat staring through the glass, unable to move. He is close by, she thought, slowly turning to look out of her window. Being under The Magician’s constant gaze was eating away at Mac’s composure. He watched me stop the car. He watched me walk to the field and find the balloon. He watched me realise that he had taken my grandmother and buried her in a coffin somewhere, and he probably knows I don’t know how to find her.
She started crying again; there was nothing for it. She needed to get it out of her system and deal with it as quickly as she could. At first she cried because she loved her grandmother, then because she felt so helpless. Last of all she cried because she was angry. She picked up the mobile phone from the seat next to her and dialled.
‘This is what you call fun? Answer me, goddamn you!’
‘Pull yourself together. The Game is in full-swing. Your anger and lack of concentration will get you both killed.’ He hung up.
His sharp tone stunned her for a moment, forcing her to clear her head. She got out of the car and retrieved the next envelope from under the wiper, but waited until she was back in the driver’s seat to open it.
Ma Cheri, I have watched you work your pendulum magic and been amazed by how you have stumbled upon my clues. The next test is one of general knowledge; some questions will be easy, some might be a little harder. The answers to the questions will spell out your next destination. And remember, Ma Cheri, the clock is ticking. Tick-tock. Tick-tock. Faithfully yours, The Magician.
*The second letter of the second name of the woman who lived with seven dwarves.
*The first letter of the Greek alphabet.
*The first letter of the first name of “Lawrence of Arabia”
*The Egyptian God of the Moon and Magic?
*What is the third most abundant chemical element in the universe?
*The seventh element in the periodic table.
*Which feast closes the seasonal celebration of Advent?
*The XVIII letter of the alphabet.
*The seventh letter of a compendium of knowledge.
*On which of the two of New Zealand’s main islands is Christchurch to be found?
*The country whose capital city is Ljubljana.
Mac looked at the questions and knew she couldn’t answer them all. She picked up the phone.
‘Would you be so kind as to tell me how much of my designated time remains?’
‘Of course. One hour and ten minutes. Good luck.’
Mac quickly got out her notebook and pen. She wrote numbers next to each of the clues on The Magician’s note, and then drew eleven short horizontal lines across a page in her notebook. For a brief second she thought of the game “hangman”.
She read the questions. Number one is obviously Snow White that gives us ‘h’ as our first letter. She wrote the letter above the first line.
Number two was easy too; who didn’t know that ‘alpha’ was the first letter in the Greek alphabet. The letter ‘a’ was placed over the second line.
Number three had her stumped; Lawrence of Arabia had always been Lawrence of Arabia to Mac even though she knew that was not his real name. Thank you, Hollywood! She knew that the answer to number four was “Thoth”, so she entered a “t” assuming that the question asked for the first letter, although it wasn’t stipulated.
Number five and six were chemistry-related questions and her knowledge in this area was fairly limited. Number five she had no idea about, but at a stretch she thought number six was doable. After all, when she was in school she’d had to learn the first twenty elements of the periodic table off by heart. She didn’t think she could reach twenty now, but then she didn’t have to. She only needed to remember the first seven.
‘Hydrogen, helium, lithium, beryllium, boron, carbon…what comes next, what comes next…oxygen is eighth and fluorine is nine, but what is seven, Mac? Come on, think…’ She started again. ‘Hydrogen, helium, lithium, beryllium, boron, carbon…nitrogen…? Nitrogen, I think that’s right. Nitrogen’s chemical symbol is an “N”.’ She added that into the corresponding place in her notebook.
Next question: asking a pagan about a Christian celebration isn’t playing fair, she mused, even though she thought she knew the answer. Advent was associated with Christmas, so she added “c” into the next space, and an “r” into the one following as Roman numerals caused her no difficulty.
The next question had two possible answers. A compendium of knowledge was an encyclopaedia, the seventh letter of which was an “o”, however, in an encyclopaedia the seventh letter might refer to the letter “g”, which was the seventh letter of the alphabet, and the order in which information would be catalogued. She looked at her page and wrote “o / g” in the space. Looking at the letters that preceded it, Mac didn’t think that the answer was likely to be “g” but she left it there just in case.
Mac had never been to New Zealand, although she did know that its two main islands were called ‘North Island’ and ‘South Island’. However, on which one Christchurch was located, was a mystery to her, but there could only be two answers, and from the other questions, she believed that the first letter of either of them must be one she needed. In the space in her notebook she added “n / s”.
The last question, she knew; European geography, she could manage. The answer was Slovenia. In the final space she entered an “s”.
That was it; that was all she could do. There were two empty spaces, representing questions she had no idea about; she couldn’t even make an educated guess. Then there were two questions, one after the other, where there were two possible answers. Perhaps if they had been spread out over the word it wouldn’t have mattered so much, but as she looked at the page before her, she believed it wasn’t good enough, and that it had taken her far too long.
She got out the phone and asked for a time update. She only had forty-five minutes left. The Magician didn’t sound too concerned as he spoke to her on the phone, but then Mac wondered why he would. It was all the same to him.
There was only one thing left that she could do now: get out the map and try to find a place on it that fitted with what she had scribbled in her notebook. She folded the map so that the quarter the pendulum had indicated to her was facing up. She began systematically tracing her finger along all the roads, starting with the main ones, before going back to the beginning and following the minor ones.
Her hopes were raised and then dashed when she stumbled upon a place called Halton Claton. The first name of the village fitted perfectly but the second did not. She resumed her search.
As she approached the top of the quarter that was facing her, she finally found it. Hatton Cross. Mac started the engine and began to drive.
Chapter 8, the final chapter, coming next week…or you can read the whole short story right now, for FREE, over on Wattpad