He was still amazed at how well he could see in the dark. The world seemed to be infused by its own light. He could walk down a country road from the abandoned farm to the farm house where the resistance members were taking their ease. He could see it in the distance, a warm glow coming from inside that bespoke of fire and lamp light and good cheer. The latter would not last for long.
He approached the house silently, but directly. He was stopped about ten meters short of the front door by an all too familiar shock and pressure. He frowned. He wondered if Seamus O’Neill was beyond the warding barrier, laughing at him as he did in Venice. It didn’t matter, because if he was he would not be laughing much longer. He was a far different opponent than when he could still walk in the sunlight.
He gathered up his will and flung it at one spot of the warding shield. Slowly but steadily a means of egress appeared in the middle, sparkling with dark light. When it had expanded enough, he stepped through and continued on to the house.
Claude laughed uproariously, almost spilling his wine, at a joke his brother Julian had told. Jennifer felt the warm glow of good companionship and hot food that she found familiar, having grown up on a farm in Wales. There her family had raised sheep and a certain amount of vegetables. Eloise’s somewhat meager acreage brought it wheat and barley, as well as chickens and pigs. But the feeling was the same, of ease and comfort after a hard day’s work.
She wondered what Edward was doing at that moment. No doubt he had eased into his role as another German soldier, being all comradely with the others up at the chateau, working his persona for all it was worth. De Brouchard had worked on his legend quite a bit for several hours before he had left with Gabriella and Yvette. It had helped that he had spent a summer between his undergraduate career at Harvard and his Rhodes scholarship at Oxford knocking around Europe, including Germany. They had him coming from a small village in Bavaria that no one else in the garrison had likely heard of, not to mention been from.
Still she found herself worrying about him in an odd way. She had always liked the gregarious American from the time they started working together in London working on codes.
Something tickling in the back of her head suddenly made her jump to her feet and stare at the front door. The next second the noise in Eloise’s kitchen was cut off as if by a sword. Julian started to open his mouth when suddenly the door flew from its hinges, letting through both the cold, night air and a man in a familiar black uniform in.
“Good evening,” the man said.
Death and mayhem ensued.
Before the war and the fall of France, Reynard de Brouchard never imagined that he would be obliged to sneak into his family’s ancestral home or that it would be guarded by a small army of Boche. Fortunately many hours of playing hide and go seek, using his special powers to cloak himself in shadow, and his intimate knowledge of the layout of the grounds made the matter ridiculously easy.
The Germans had set up foot patrols around the grounds, as well as outposts at the main points of egress. The patrols each consisted of a single solider with a submachine gun and a German shepherd. Since a dog could pick him up by smell, it complicated De Brouchard’s gaining access to the chateau. Fortunately he had a plan to deal with that.
He vaulted over a stone fence at the edge of a wood that stretched to near the chateau. Then, shrouding himself in shadow, he moved rapidly toward the side of the main manor house where he knew a side entrance existed.
He heard a footfall and the growl of a dog. He stopped stretched out his hand and spoke a few silent words. He heard the dog whimper and drop to the ground, motionless. He heard a voice in German speaking concern. The dog would awake in about an hour, but would in the meantime capture the attention of its soldier companion.
De Brouchard moved on.
He had to cross a lit clear space to get to a servant’s entrance to the manor house. Some sentries had set up on the rooftop and were shining a light, sweeping it across the grassy lawn and the gravel road where supplies were taken to be offloaded to storage rooms and the chateau kitchen. De Brouchard was able to time the sweeps to the second and managed to get to the door, magic open the lock, and get inside before the light found him.
The corridor beyond has stone walls, floor, and ceiling and was illuminate by harsh electric lights, But the door to the kitchen was open just ahead and the savory smell of meat pies was wafting out. De Brouchard walked quickly down the corridor and slipped into the kitchen.
The pies were resting on a wooden table. There was only one of the kitchen staff present, bent over an oven taking out the last pie. De Brouchard made as if to taste one of the pies. When the cook turned around, carrying the piping hot pie wrapped in a cloth, she exclaimed, “Hands off…Rennie!”
The cook, a lithe, pretty young woman, with her black hair done up, rushed forward, barely slowing down to set the pie next to the others, and threw herself into De Brouchard’s arms.
“Glad to see you too, Danielle,” he said when they finally came up for air for kissing.
“But you can’t be here,” the cook said. “Your uncle…”
“My uncle will never know I’ve been here. I’m here for the two guests.”
“Ah, the Italian Contessa and her companion. Are they-“
“I just need to know where they are.”
“They are in one of the guest rooms. Is it true that the Italian is a-“
“I need to get there undetected.”
“They are going to take their dinner in their room. Or at least the French lady is. You can help me take them their food.”
About 20 minutes later De Brouchard and Danielle were carrying trays of food up the stairs and then down a hall to the guestroom where Gabriella and Yvette were staying. De Brouchard was wearing a valet’s uniform Danielle had found and had used his power to change his features. Danielle knocked discretely on the door to the guest room. “Dinner, Contessa, mademoiselle.”
“Come in, please,” a voice said from within.
De Brouchard opened the door and he and Danielle entered carrying the food trays. They were surprised to see Edward Young standing with his arms folded talking to Yvette, who was seated on the bed. “Hey, that smells good,” Young said.
“Where is the Contessa?” asked De Brouchard as they set the trays down.
“She is chatting with the Duc,” Yvette said. “Edward came up here at her request to make arrangements for our departure tonight.”
“Sergeant Karl Schroder is ever obedient to his orders,” Edward added.”But that begs the question, why are you here?”
De Brouchard indicated the door to Danielle who, understanding, said, softly, “See me sometime” and the left. De Brouchard blew a kiss after her.
After a moment, De Brouchard continued, “Something has happened. We need to leave as soon as it is dusk and-“
Just then the door opened and both Gabriella and the Duc stepped into the bedroom. Both of them started at the sight of De Brouchard.
“What the hell are you doing here, nephew?” the Duc asked after a heart beat.
“Pleased to see you as well, Uncle.”
“More to the point, how are you here? The Germans should have shot you on sight.”
De Brouchard had a thin smile. “They would have to catch me first.”
“I have a good mind you turn you over to them. Your presence here threatens to compromise this family.”
“I don’t think you will do that, even if I permitted it.”
The Duc sighed. “No, if for nothing else, your aunt would never hear of it.”
“How is Aunt Simone, anyway? Please convey my apologies as I will not be able to call on her.”
“Well, isn’t this splendid, a family reunion,” Gabriella said, smiling a little too broadly. “Reynard, I think we can get things moving along.”
“I will tell Captain Aldringer personally that we have need of a car and the good Sergeant once again,” the Duc said.
About an hour later, De Brouchard, Gabriella, and Yvette stood at the foot of the steps waiting for Edward to bring the staff car around. The parking area was still filled with light, from the moon and from Nazi search lights that lazily moved from left to right. Gabriella was conscious of several pairs of eyes watching them from concealed positions and from the top of the steps.
Edward brought the car around, stepped out smartly, and held the door open for his passengers. When they had climbed in, he got into the driver’s seat and started the engine back up and started to drive away.
As they passed through the gate with the German guard house, De Brouchard suddenly put his hand on his right temple and grimaced. Gabriella was the only one in the car who noticed. “Comte?”
De Brochard shut his eyes and concentrated. “Monsieur Young, I suggest you step on it.”
“Now, for the love of God!”
Edward jammed down the accelerator and moved the stick shift. The staff car roared down the darkened road under the moon.
Back to Dark Invasion Chapter Six
Forward to Dark Invasion Chapter Eight
Gabriella’s previous World War Two adventure was recounted in Dark Sanction
Gabriella fights in the War in Terror in Dark Hunt