Hullo there. I probably should update my other stories before starting another but unfortunately my inspiration (and concentration) wanders like a stray sheep. D; I re-read Neverwhere again recently and I remembered how much I loved it. It made me rewatch the BBC series. And I remembered how much I loved that too.
It made me want to write.
So here it is. Ever wondered why the Earl of Earl's Court hated the Marquis de Carabas? The siege of White City? Find out now….
The underside was dark. It was always dark. The smattering of light that fell through gratings and holes did little to the thick black beneath. The underground was busy with those from London Above, all scurrying and oblivious to what was happening around them, unaware of the unimportance of their worries. There were bigger things to be worrying about.
He was dressed smartly, flamboyantly, standing on the underground platform, near the wall of course, and waiting for the correct train. The ones from London Above didn't give him a second glance, pushing each other aside in their mad dashes too and from work or school or shopping.
"Please mind the gap." The loud speaker announced and a coiling tentacle of darkness curled from the edge of the platform, ignored by all those except the dark man watching with a smile. He glanced at the time on the overhead display. Right about… now.
A train slammed on its breaks as it pulled into the station, the screech of metal loud and grating. It halted suddenly and the man knocked smartly on the door. It was opened and a crossbow was shoved into his face instantly.
"Who goes there?" A guard demanded. Youthful, excited, this guard was on edge. He wanted to shoot the crossbow.
"Oh, I think you'll find the Earl is expecting me." The dark man replied with a grin.
"Oh! The Marquis. Come in." The crossbowman backed up and turned smartly. "The Marquis de Carabas!" He announced as the doors slid shut, a pneumatic hiss signalling their closure.
The Marquis looked about the train carriage. Not a lot had changed since the last time he had been here. The Earl sat upon his throne at one end of the carriage and the Marquis headed straight there, dropping into a bow before straightening.
"How goes it, de Carabas?" The Earl asked, resting his jaw in his hand. "I grow weary of the Raven's minions knocking constantly upon my doors in some vain hope of killing me."
"I'm not sure well is exactly the right word, my Lord, but badly is not the right word either." There was a thoughtful pause. "I'm sure I'll sort it out eventually. But. More importantly, you remember our bargain?"
"Of course." The Earl growled, "You need not keep reminding me. I'm not old nor senile."
"Of course, of course." The Marquis waved a hand dismissively.
"Get on with it then, man! Go!" The Earl was an impatient man and the Marquis de Carabas was the sort to get on his nerves. A lot.
"Of course, my Lord." The Marquis grinned and turned with a flourish. "Drop me on the central line, would you?" He strode to the door and waited expectantly, his arms folded over his chest. "Marble Arch."
Surprisingly quickly, the train slowed, slamming round several corners then screeching to a juddering halt. The doors hissed open once more and de Carabas disembarked without a single glance back.
The Marquis chose to walk for a while now. He would delay this meeting with Raven's Court for no other reason then to fuel his own desire for irritating the two feuding courts. Baron's Court was another he planned to bring into this mix, yet the time was not yet right.
He climbed a ladder alone, exiting along a tunnel that stretched off a distance. A few people came the other way.
"The next floating market?" One called to him. The Marquis smiled and answered just as they passed him so he did not have to shout.
"Buckingham." He replied, continuing on his way. It was cool down here, refreshing.
Several turns and long minutes later, the Marquis emerged at Olympia. He edged quickly around her dwelling, not wanting to be seen, before heading to the London Above train platform, once again leaning on the wall and awaiting the train's arrival.
Soon, a large black bullet of a train slammed into the station, invisible to the oblivious people milling around. The Marquis straightened and knocked on the door sharply, much as he had done for Earl's Court. The door hissed open and a sword was brandished in his face.
"Who goes tharrr?" A man cawed harshly, an amateurish attempt to sound like a bird. The Marquis smiled.
"The Marquis de Carabas, once more." He replied and was ushered onto the train. He wrinkled his nose slightly; never would he get used to the smell, the stench of this bird's nest. He carefully avoided the droppings on the floor, barely glancing up at the ravens that lined the hand rails along the carriage. Seated at the end, in a nest of silver and bronze, sat a huge bird, its black feathers glossy and its beak sharp and dangerous. It eyed him beadily before clacking its beak.
"Yes, I spoke to him, Lord Raven." The Marquis raised an eyebrow. He glanced back at the single other human-shaped thing on the train carriage. He wasn't paying attention. Looking back to the Raven, it cawed heartily.
"Offer something? Well, Lord Raven, I can—"
Another screeching cry.
"Yes. Yes he did offer something in exchange, of course. I didn't' bring it as I thought I had better check you wished such a gift."
The Marquis' mind was racing. What was there that a Raven could possibly want? Silver? Jewels? No. It didn't seem likely. The Raven was speaking again and the Marquis nodded.
"Yes. If you could drop me at Bank, I shall retrieve it from the vaults for you."
Bank station was busy, as it almost always was, and yet the Marquis had no problem moving through the crowd like a shadow. He went through a side door and down a long flight of steps, emerging in the great Bank of the underside. There were tellers of varying shapes and sizes behind desks and people queuing or milling around. The Marquis headed straight for a huge and overly imposing door, going straight through and into a vast chamber.
"Your number, sir?" A small man asked from behind a desk directly to one side of the door. The Marquis turned to him.
"2640" The Marquis replied instantly then produced an iron key from his pocket. "I know the way. Don't mind me."
The Marquis strode along the vaults until he came to one with 2640 etched deep into the iron door. He used the key and pushed the door open with a creak, peering into the gloom.
After pulling a light from a pocket, the Marquis closed the door and lit the lamp in the corner. The room was bare and empty save for a chest in the centre, against the back wall. He approached almost cautiously before unlocking the padlock with a tiny, golden key. He flipped the lid back and the room was suddenly lti was a flaming golden glow.
"You bounder, you cad. I hate you. You trickster, you fraud!" A rich voice, so beautiful and melodic echoed about the room as the Marquis reached into the box and pulled out a golden bird that shimmered and twinkled in the light
"It's time for you to repay that favour, GoldHawk." The Marquis said softly. The bird grumbled to itself.
"What say you about going to Raven's Court for a time?"
"Interesting." The bird replied, scratching it's beak with it's taloned foot. "I do rather like Lord Raven."
"Good." The Marquis deftly undid the chains around the bird's wings and straightened. GoldHawk flew to his shoulder and sat. Although it was such a large beast, it was feather light. The Marquis smiled and dosed the lamp, leaving the room and locking the door behind himself.
End of chapter. I'll write more. Yet to come:
-The Raven and the GoldHawk
- Buckingham Market
-The Siege of White City
And not necessarily in that order :D
Read and review 3