The Key to Locke
The Key to Locke
Several possibilities have been put forward as candidates as to the identity of the individual to whom Vaush is writing. This seems to be a person of some note who holds sway over the author. Sir Armand DuGrath, Knight of Harthold Manner believes that Vaush had acquired a patron and was setting his tale to paper at the patron’s bequest. This is an unlikely theory as Vaush rarely stayed in one place for very long.
Vaush never seems particularly inclined to pay homage to class or rank. Those few that did earn his respect did so by deed and philosophy. Rank, especially those marked by accident of birth, in most respect counted against an individual. Vaush’s relationship with Simon Locke seems to have been something of a different order.
- G.M. Frasier Professor Emeritus, Queen’s University of Cadris
The lord of the manner in most respects is an idiot. Now that being said there are some out there that simply are not dolts. The world would be a better place if they were idiots, but the fates have deemed that the society should be saddled with such men. Barthalamue Rush is one such cretonne. I shall speak again of this particular human monster again soon enough.
It was the twilight of my sixth year that again I was to visit young Simon Locke. This time it was my mother that would escort me to the Baronial residence. It was on the eve of this trip that I learned things that if I had a clearer eye towards the future would have acted as a sign or portent; a living glyph of the future. You see, my mother had decided that my attire of the previous visit the Locke castle had been lacking in style and the necessary dignitas so to speak. Immediately she commissioned an outfit for me. The tailor was acerbic wretch with deeply inflated opinion of both himself and his work. The outfit was black with light blue piping. While it was very nice and even from the eye of a six year old it was well made. However, I could not resist and I told the stauggy old bag that the outfit would do. This drew a caustic response from the old man, which my mother, much to my surprise put the old fart into his place.
This was the first sign, that while I noticed it, I did not put it all into its proper context. It was now that Robert arrived with my second clue. In my presence they began to speak. Robert and my mother it seems were quite close. I am not nor was I then aware of any dalliances that may have occurred between them, though of Robert’s demeanor in general I doubt it.
Robert placed his stamp of approval upon my attire and the garment maker was dismissed. The callow fool left with his proverbial tail between his spindly knob kneed legs. I noticed then that even the outside help held Robert in a kind of awe that bordered on fear. I was not aware of the full extent and limitations, but it seemed to my young eyes that my mother and Robert held a kind of power at the Pleasure Palace of Eve.
After the final fittings, Robert said that I should come and visit him, within his office, upon our return from the Baron’s residence. This I took in stride, and why not. At the time Robert was one of the few constants in my life; perhaps even more so than my own mother. For I had hardly seen her in comparison these last six years. By now I was living on the second floor and had not seen the others of my age in several weeks. I was even bereft of Gail, whom had served as my surrogate mother for the majority of my young life. How the betrayals fall among the dying leaves of our youth.
My mother, whom even today I think of as Veronica, began to take a greater interest in me since my move to the second floor. Do not think of this a rebuttal to her affection for me; for I was never want for care, food or for the occasional caudal at the breast of my mother or some other surrogate.
The reason for our visit was so that my mother, Veronica, could provide piano lessons to the young na-baron. It seems that the young Simon Locke had expressed interest in learning more of the piano than I had been able to show him. We made the trip from the palatial estates of the Eve to the rock walled hard manner of the House of Locke by carriage. Unlike the one that I had traveled in with Robert some weeks before this one was covered and we rode in the full regalia. There were to footman, a driver and another man who served the purpose of security. My mother referred to him as Robert’s security blanket for my mother. She assured me that there would be no trouble, and the rough man was only a precaution.
We arrived with a level of pomp and circumstance that I was heretofore unaccustomed to. The coachman opened the door and helped my mother down the small step from the interior of the carriage. I followed. I heard the barking of dogs. It was not the playful yapping of animals cavorting with children. These were the dogs of hunting and war. Vicious beasts more apt to tear an appendage from your body then to provide any sort of succor. I suspect now, many years after the fact that they were also the subtle tools of a devilish game. The great game in fact.
We were greeted by the servants of Locke in the wide bailey entrance. I remember the walls and they seemed grim and hard. This had once been a place of war and had served in the time of the Tusk Occupation.
We were escorted into the central keep where the baronial residence was. Escorted deep into the bowels of that cold and hard place we found ourselves in the anteroom of the Lord. Lord Locke was an impressive man though a bit dour. He greeted my mother and all bowed. Never having been schooled in the necessary etiquette of court I stood there like an ignorant dimwit until my mother cued me to follow suite; which I did.
Eventually we were led into the same room that I had previously met with Simon. It was as I remembered. Simon was waiting. Even at six or seven he stared at my mother’s beauty. He stared at her as a slack jawed dimwit might. After the ogling had finished my mother and I sat down for piano lessons. My performance was passable; Simon showed some improvement when he could tear his eyes off my mother’s breasts.
When the lessons had completed the na-baron’s servant suggested that we “play” for a time. Simon had the idea to see the dogs. Never having actually seen one I readily agreed, though I must admit to some trepidation after hearing the ruckus of the kennels. As it turned out the kennels deserved every ounce of fear that had jangled at my spine. These were assuredly the dogs of war. They snapped and bit that were slathering beasts barely contained by the handlers that walked them to and fro. Except of course when they were set upon some poor soul foolish enough to don a padded suit of armor. The beasts would then tear him to the ground were he would frantically cover his eyes until the dogs could be called off. What the poor sot had done to deserve such a duty I can only imagine. I agreed with Simon in that we should draw no closer. Instead we returned to the keep and made our way to the servant’s wing where the more amicable animals were kept.
Angus Filmore stalked upon us. A tall and dour man; thin to the point of being mistaken for a cadaver, the man had the personality of the predatory dead. He questioned Simon in the particulars of his visit to the servant’s quarters. It was odd that such a man, who was obviously a servant, should question the motivations of the son of the resident Lord, but that was what he did. I stood by and watched the encounter, carefully noticing how the relationship between servant and heir unfolded.
The dogs kept in the servant’s quarters were much nicer then those kept in the outside kennels. They were the kind of animals that are enjoyed by children the world over; fluffy balls of tongue and paw. Alas I learned that I had an allergy; but I pushed through, willing to suffer through the sneezing and enjoyed myself.
In time we were fetched by the self same servant that had made the suggestion that Simon and I spend time. The dogs were packed away into what ever corner of the castle they were kept. We were escorted back. My mother was standing in the same anteroom that we had entered initially. She stood in quiet consultation with Lord Locke. There was an intimacy there that had not existed upon our arrival. This is the benefit of an excellent memory for at six on the heals of seven years of age I missed all of it.
I bid my farewells with Simon and we came to the conclusion that the time had been enjoyable and it would be beneficial to repeat it. My mother and I entered the carriage and we returned to Eve’s by a scenic route that differed from our arrival.
Once we had returned to Eve’s my mother asked of my impressions which I gave to her in frank terms. Simon was not the idiot that I had initially taken him for. He was a kind person who loved his animals and had an interesting relationship with the Chancellor of the Keep. When asked I said that it would be nice to see the young na-baron again. At that the conversation was over and I was reminded of my appointment with Robert.
As expected I found Robert in his study. He took a moment to complete what ever task was at hand before he acknowledged me. We then spoke in similar terms as I had with my mother. He stated without question my estimations of the Chancellor were correct. The man was formidable and should be dealt with as such. It was then that I learned the cadaverous man’s name. Angus Filmore.
Robert said that he had an appointment to keep and it was his wish that I accompany him. He gave me the once over and found the fact that I had not changed from the formal attire agreeable. Instead of proceeding to the carriage house, we delved deeper into the house. We passed through doors that had been forbidden. They grew increasingly ornate. We passed through rooms that grew ever more lavish. Paintings and tapestries became more and more rich in content and texture. The servants were of a higher quality, bordering on a state of royalty of their own.
As we continued deeper into the house, going through room after room and door after door, each more lavish then the next I came to the realization that despite the decadent luxury that I had experienced throughout my youth, it was paltry in comparison to other regions of the house. Finally we came to a large ornate door with what I assumed at the time was a golden knob. Robert looked at me, taking in my demeanor and nodded his approval. We entered quite possibly the largest room I had ever seen. A single desk at the center occupied by a man that Robert approached. He told the well dressed man at the desk that he had an appointment with the Lord of the Manor. Then we waited. We waited in the silence that one begets in the presence of those of higher station then yourself. It is awkward and troublesome, especially for an overly curious six year old. It took most of my willpower to no wander the expansive room and make closer inspection of the ornate decorations. In time the desk man returned and stated that the Lord would see us.
Barthalamue Rush. My first impression of him, which was quickly demolished was that of a peacock crossed with a painted lady. He was lavishly dressed in finery that I could not see the sense of. He wore a feathered had and his face was painted as white as porcelain; a gold filigree decorated the man’s cheek and if I was not mistaken he wore eyeliner. The Lord of Eve’s Palace stood near the window with a book in his hand, reading I can only assume. He kept us waiting several moments, a fact that to my education was rude beyond measure. After all the fop had asked us to come to him.
When Rush finally did turn to greet his guests, he turned and eyed us with the same lax disinterest that one might consider the evening’s dinner of yesterday’s white fish. He spoke in an equally lax tongued tone and spoke for a few moments with Robert. He asked a few questions in regards to the visit of my mother to the Lord Locke’s estate. It was not the terms that they used that were alien to me, but rather the tones that were used. As it came, Robert had prepared a report for Rush, the nature of which I was completely ignorant of at the time.
Even upon this first meeting I had little regard for Lord Rush. He had a predatory nature about him that I found quite unsettling. It was a feeling that I was not used to and I didn’t like it. After several moments he indicated to me that I should step forward. To this point I had been several paces behind Robert and I was not inclined to be any closer to this overly dressed creature. Even at six it was clear to me; he was not a peacock. He had more of the feeling of a overly dressed spider that sat in an immensely complex but lavish web.
I did step forward however. He asked me a few questions; all of which I answered honestly and without lingual flourish. Rush told Robert that he liked me after inquiring if “I was her daughter?”. That was it; the totality of the meeting. Despite its brevity, I was left with the need to wash, as if when I left I was covered in the ancient webs of a quite deadly spider.
Robert retired to his office and asked what I thought. In my typical fashion of the time I was forthright and honest. I didn’t like the man. Then the world of my youth crumbled away. Robert gave me the slightest glimpse into the world of Barthalamue Rush. He explained the difference between Lord Locke and Rush. One held royalty by virtue of his birth and the other by virtue of the power he wielded.
Emphatic in my declaration I took no joy from having met the man that was Barthalamue Rush; Robert made it clear that if such sentiments were ever voiced outside his office he would kill me himself.
How does one say such a thing to a six year old. I have killed many men and my fair share of woman. I do not deny any person’s right to fall tragically to their death whether it be by knife, poison or arranged accident; I care not. But a child is another thing. In a single moment it became clear that Robert was not the father figure I had taken him to be. The encouragement that I took with his obvious closeness to my mother had been an error. Instead it drew Veronica into the snare; it is a tragedy when a child comes to the conclusion that his own mother, no matter how distant may be, at some future day the author of his own obituary by her own hand.
I am sure you can guess. I agreed and eyed this man within a new paradigm. Not a protector but simply someone who could teach to survive, but only if I played by his rules, which I resolved to do.
I returned to Veronica. In the new light of my existence she no longer held that angelic glow that she once had. She remained beautiful beyond measure, for I have yet to find someone of such comeliness. What she had lost that angelic glow that my imagination had always granted her. Veronica had become a clear player, in a deadly game that I was but an initiate. To insure my basic necessities I did not doubt; but her motivations I could not guess.
My mother held congress with Robert and Robert with Rush. Rush held sway over both. My world had become at once more interesting and thrilling, but darker and less stable at the same time. I was her son; that was what Rush had said. Her son; the significance implied. An implication that I had no reference for.
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