Notes: The "Forbidden One" and the mysterious man in this chapter are not mine; they're cameos from/references to another one of my fandoms; kudos to anyone who can identify them.
The Monkees had managed to sleep through the entire flight; within hours of landing, they had collected their bearings and were in the heart of Manchester, Davy eagerly ringing the doorbell of his grandfather's house. But a few minutes went by without an answer.
"He must not be in…" Davy said, disappointed.
"Well, you did want to surprise him," Peter reminded him. "He wasn't expecting you, was he?"
"No, guess not," Davy said, and he shrugged it off. "Right. I've got a spare key, so here's what we'll do; we'll leave our things in the guest rooms, and I'll show you around the city. How's that?"
"Sounds like a plan," Mike said.
Davy unlocked the door, a smile returning to his face as he crossed the threshold.
"This is where I grew up, you guys. Man, I can't believe it; it's almost completely like how I remember it," he said, softly, placing a hand on the wall. "Just a few changes here and there…"
"Well, you haven't been back here since you first came to California," Micky reminded him. "That was what—how many years ago?"
"Four and a half," Davy and Mike replied, simultaneously. They caught each other's eyes and smiled.
"So, what's it like to be home after so long?" Peter asked, smiling, as well.
Davy let out a sigh as he led the way upstairs.
"1334 North Beechwood is my home now, Peter," he said. "Even if I miss this old place, there's nothing that could make me leave you guys."
"And we are glad to hear that," Micky insisted, as he pushed his drums to the corner of the guest room.
The others followed suit, storing their instruments alongside the wall.
"Hey, I just realized something," Peter said. "We're going to need a plug converter for my keyboard. Know where we can get one?"
"I'm sure we could find one in one of the tourist shops," Davy said, waving a hand for them to follow him down the stairs and out the door. "They have all sorts of things for all the tourists who forget things across the Pond."
Micky paused as they headed down the sidewalk, blinking at a poster on the wall of a building.
"Hey, Mick, come on!" Mike called. "Don't get left behind!"
"Hold on a sec!" the brunet exclaimed. "Look at this!"
Davy led the others back, glancing at the poster.
"'Additions to the Ancient Egypt exhibit now on display at the Manchester Museum,'" Davy read. "Yeah, they add things to the displays from time to time; they once had a mummy on loan—"
"Never mind the mummy!" Micky exclaimed. "Look at that thing—that hook they have in the ad! Don't you recognize it?"
"It looks like those hook things you often see the Pharaohs holding," Mike said. "Every Ancient Egypt exhibit has one…"
"But not one with its own warning tag—in solid gold," Micky said. He pointed to the base of the hook, which was set in a small pedestal. Hieroglyphs were etched into the metal. "Most of those hook things don't have that base. And the only other one I've seen like this was in the art exhibition at the audition last week—it was one of the replicas Rico had out!"
"Hey, that's right!" Peter said. "It was there with a whole bunch of other Egyptian replicas! …Wow, talk about your coincidences…"
"We oughta see the real thing, Man," Micky said. "Take a picture—and then we're one up on Rico!"
"Well," Davy smirked. "I'm all for anything that'll put us one step ahead of him."
"Wait a minute," Mike said. "Do we have the money to spare for this? There's no point in spending all the money we're going to get for this Paris gig…"
"The Manchester Museum has free admission," Davy informed him. "Grandfather used to take me there all the time when I was younger—said it would build my character to learn about ancient cultures."
"Well, it must've worked," Micky declared. "Because you're quite a character."
"Look who's talking," Davy grinned, giving him a good-natured punch on the arm.
"Well, I can dig a free museum," the Texan said.
"Yeah, me too!" Peter agreed. "The plug converter can wait. Lead the way, Davy!"
As Davy led the way to the museum, he was careful to point out the interesting sights along the way.
The museum itself was an entertaining time, as well. A lot of the older exhibits hadn't changed much, and Davy got to show off the random facts of ancient cultures he had learned on his previous visits here.
"So… how interested were you in all of this stuff when you were younger?" Mike wondered aloud.
"Not much," the younger boy admitted. "I wasn't exactly appreciative of all of this stuff; it was more like a chore. Back then, all I could think about was going to America and making a life for myself there."
"And now?" Peter asked, leaning over one of the felt barriers to get a closer look at part of an ancient wall painting.
"…Well, it's much more interesting now," Davy admitted, sincerely. "And I'm glad to be able to share it with you fellas."
"Peter, you're in my shot!" Micky complained, trying to take a picture of the wall painting. The blond quickly jumped out of the way.
"And over yonder, we see the mysterious hook," Mike said, seeing it in another glass case by a door marked "Staff Only."
"Awright!" Micky grinned, as he ran over to the case. "Okay, you three stand beside the case, and I'll take your picture!"
"But you won't be in it!" Peter exclaimed. He looked around, pausing as he saw a man standing close by, staring at the object in the case. "Uh, hey… excuse me? Sir?"
The man looked to Peter, his eyebrows arching.
"Could you take our picture in front of this hook thing?"
"If you are referring to the Crook of the Forbidden One, I would be most willing to grant your request," he said, with a smile.
"Is that what it's called?" Micky asked, handing him his camera. "Catchy…"
The Monkees posed beside the glass case, and the man took their picture before handing the camera back to Micky.
"So do you know the story of this here… what'd you call it? Crook of the Forbidden One?" Mike asked.
The man looked to the artifact.
"I do," he said. "It is one part of a set of three items—a crook, a flail, and a medallion. The crook and the flail are useless on their own, but with the medallion, it is said that they unlock something that could be construed as either a great blessing or as a terrible curse. I am inclined to believe it is the latter."
He had all four of the Monkees' attention now; they stared back and forth between the man and the crook.
"What exactly is this blessing and/or curse?" Mike asked.
"According to the legend, the three items, when combined, are able to unlock endless wealth, but at a terrible cost. While the Crook and Flail are harmless—and useless—on their own, the Medallion of the Forbidden One, which holds the secret to the endless gold, ultimately poisons the mind of the user due to the influence of a dark spirit," the man said. "The user gets all the wealth he desires, but loses his very self to avarice."
"Ava-who-sis?" Peter asked, his eyes wide.
"Avarice," the man repeated. "Greed. The potential danger of the hold the Medallion of the Forbidden One has convinced a Pharaoh to separate the items to three different places across the Earth."
"Why couldn't he just destroy them?" Micky asked.
"According to the legend, the items cannot be destroyed as they are," the man explained. "It is said that one must be approached by the dark spirit of the medallion—and then turn down his offer. For the spirit feeds off of greed—and denial of nourishment will render him weak to attack in his vessel."
"And no one's been able to resist it, huh?" Peter asked. "That's scary…"
"Peter, it's just a legend!" Davy said. "There's nothing to worry about. …Right?"
The man didn't blink.
"Two of the three items of the Forbidden One have been found; one—the Flail—is still lost. The Crook is here, as you can plainly see, and the Medallion is in the possession of the one who graciously donated the Crook for display. Both the Crook and the Medallion were pillaged by opportunists during the Second World War; their collection was confiscated by British Intelligence, and these two items, left unclaimed, were put up for auction among others and bought by one of the Intelligence Agents. He also obtained some research notes that suggested the location of the Flail was somewhere in Peru, and he has done his best to add to the notes after doing his own research."
"From Egypt to Peru…" Mike mused. "That's some journey. And this Flail thing is still lost somewhere in Peru?"
"It is believed so; after being buried there, it was uncovered by the Incas, who later enshrined it in a place documented in those notes. I tried to convince the retired Intelligence agent to destroy the notes and render the location of the Flail permanently hidden, but he found the thought of destroying the research deplorable. In most ordinary cases, I would agree. But this is no ordinary case. I told him as much. It is my suspicion that he wishes to find the missing Flail, but for the noble purpose of donating all three pieces to this museum. While I admire his efforts, I fear he does not know the full story of the legend—and the potential danger he could release by bringing the three items together again. However, it is clear that my words will not dissuade him."
The man stepped away from the case, turning to leave. As he did so, the plaque he had been obscuring from view was now visible, describing the item.
Pharaonic Crook, early 19th Dynasty, New Kingdom, donated by F. Jones.
Davy's eyes widened.
"Hey!" he exclaimed. "That F. Jones isn't, by chance—?"
He was cut off; he had turned to call out to the man, but the man was out of sight.
"Where'd he go?" Micky wondered.
"Never mind that!" Davy fretted. "We have to find out whether or not my grandfather was the one who donated this thing!"
"Yeah, I remember you mentioning that your gramps was in British Intelligence during the war," Mike said. "And his name is—?"
"Felix Jones," Davy said. "He always did go on about some of the things he got in auctions after the war. And the whole reason he kept dragging me here to build character was because of him being an ancient history buff…"
"But didn't you just say five minutes ago that this whole thing was only a legend?" Peter asked.
"That was before I found out that my grandfather might be mixed up in this thing!" Davy exclaimed.
"Hold it!" Mike said, holding up a hand to silence everyone. "Hold everything right there! I think we just found the answer to the mystery that Micky was going on about yesterday."
"Could you do me a favor and remind me what I was going on about?" the brunet asked. "It's hard to keep track sometimes."
"You were saying that there was something from Davy that Rico wanted," Mike reminded him. "But none of us could figure out what it was. Well, this is a big clue, isn't it? It can't just be a coincidence that a replica of the Crook of the Forbidden One shows up in Rico's art exhibition in Los Angeles while the original just happened to be in the possession of Davy's gramps!"
"Ha, see? I knew there was something behind this!" Micky exclaimed, once Mike had reminded him. "I oughta become a consulting detective!"
"But that still doesn't make sense as to why he keeps antagonizing me," Davy said. "Does he think that making me mad will cause me to convince Grandfather to hand the Crook over so he'll go away?"
"Maybe it's revenge?" Peter offered. "Maybe he tried to make a deal with your grandpa for the Crook—maybe even the Medallion, too—and he wouldn't sell. So Rico's just taking it out on you."
"That actually makes sense…" Mike said, now walking in circles around the glass case to observe the Crook from all angles. "And trying to wear you down a little bit could also be a part of the plan—"
Mike was suddenly cut off as the "Staff Only" door he was walking past suddenly flew open, smacking him right in the face and pinning him against the wall behind the door.
"Mike!" the others exclaimed.
But their attention was soon diverted as Cyndia Crowforest now stepped out from the room, resulting in all of them gaping at each other in shock.