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Authors: Chelsea Quinn Yarbro

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BOOK: Hotel Transylvania
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The sorcerer who loved jewels jumped visibly. He mumbled that the Prinz was mistaken, and pointed to the English sorcerer. "It must be him, sir. It was not I."

Now Saint-Germain turned to him, his penetrating dark eyes full on Le Grâce's. "Understand me, Le Grâce," he said softly. "I will not tolerate being cheated or lied to. I am not a fool. Sattin did not take the diamond; you did. It is in your inner vest pocket. There are also six fraudulent pieces of glass there. The seventh is my jewel. You have until the count of ten to put it onto the table. One..."

Le Grâce could not meet the steady gaze of Saint- Germain's dark eyes. "Prinz Ragoczy..." he began, his glance darting to his companions.

"Two."

The English sorcerer Sattin moved restlessly. "Your Highness, reconsider. Le Grâce is not..."

"Three."

A rat scuttled near the hearth, chittering in rage, and then was gone.

Two of the sorcerers rose and turned their backs to Le Grâce, one of them saying to the other, "Le Grâce never said his name. The Prinz simply knew it."

"Four."

Involuntarily Le Grâce's hand crept toward the pocket in his vest. His face was rigid with fright. "Prinz, we could talk this over."

"Five."

Sattin moved away from Le Grâce a trifle, and said in English to Saint-Germain, "It is true he is a rogue, Highness, but he is useful."

"Not to me. Six."

"But this is foolishness," Sattin protested. "If you have the secret of jewels, surely this one cannot mean much to you."

"Seven. I dislike being robbed," he said in English. "I dislike being lied to. A man who will cheat me of a jewel will betray me for very little. Eight."

Greasy sweat showed on Le Grâce's face, and he made a swipe with his sleeve to wipe it away. He shifted uneasily in his chair. His mouth was suddenly dry, and he reached for his wine, drinking noisily.

"Nine." Although his voice was no louder, the word sounded like a gunshot in the dingy taproom.

"All right!" Le Grâce blurted, and reached for the pouch in his vest pocket. "All right!" Contemptuously he tossed the pouch onto the table. "Examine them."

A breath passed through the room, and the tension drained from the air. The two sorcerers by the fire came back toward the table.

Saint-Germain took the pouch and opened it. The predicted seven gems fell onto the table next to the other jewels Saint-Germain had spilled there.

"Which is which, then?" Le Grâce asked sarcastically.

Without a word, Saint-Germain reached out his hand to six of the jewels and gathered them into a pile. Then, wrapping a length of napkin from the table around his hand, he struck the jewels with his fist. When he lifted his hand, there was a powder of glass on the table. He looked inquiringly at the others.

"Prinz Ragoczy ..Sattin said slowly. "On behalf of our Brotherhood and our Guild, I ask your pardon and forgiveness."

Saint-Germain nodded. "Agreed. Only secure me that man and see that he does not again have access to this guild."

Sattin nodded and turned to the others. "You heard what the Prinz requires." He motioned, and the men accepted his order. "Pesche, and you, Oulen, take Le Grâce upstairs. To the attic room."

The two sorcerers nodded, and went to Le Grâce. "Come," they said, obviously prepared to take him away by force if he resisted.

Le Grâce glared at them. "He's just a trickster. None of those diamonds are real." He looked desperately from one of his Guild Brothers to the next. "They can't be real. They're all just glass."

Saint-Germain gave him a cold, bored stare. "Because you are a charlatan, there is no reason to think that the rest of the world is equally dishonest." He reached for the largest of the diamonds and put it on the powdered glass. He tightened the napkin around his hand and brought his fist down full force on the stone. The table sagged under the impact of his blow. When he lifted his hand, the stone, intact, had been driven into the table for half of its length. Saint-Germain opened his hand and pulled away the napkin.

"Your hand..." Sattin began.

Saint-Germain put his hand, palm up, on the table. "As you see."

Even Le Grâce did not have the heart to call this deceit. He lowered his head and let his Guild Brothers lead him away.

"You have answered him," Sattin said, a certain satisfaction in his voice, knowing that he had been answered as well.

"Only for the moment," Saint-Germain said with a reluctant shaking of his head. "In a few hours he will have decided that all this was an illusion, and then he will want to discredit me." He touched his dark hair where it was tied at the back of his neck. "Never mind, English. I have more pressing concerns than a discontented false sorcerer."

"You said you had need of a service." Sattin was leaning forward now, and the six remaining men listened, alert.

"In exchange for the secret of the jewels, yes." Saint- Germain looked at the six men. "Which of you is French?"

Four of the men admitted to being French. "And the other?" Saint-Germain asked, waving the English Sattin aside.

"I am Spanish. My name is Ambrosias Maria Domingo y Roxas. I am from Burgos." He made an odd bow as he added, "I was excommunicated for heresy, and escaped only because my escort to Madrid was careless. They say now that I escaped by sorcery, but it was only my wits that saved me."

Saint-Germain studied the little Spaniard. "I may have use for you later," he said in flawless Spanish. "In the meantime I felicitate you on your escape. You are one of the rare few." He turned his attention to the French sorcerers, and resumed their tongue. "Who among you have dealt with the aristocracy before?"

The sorcerers exchanged glances, and then one, a man somewhat older them the others, said, "I was a majordomo in the Savigny household. That was more than a dozen years ago.

Saint-Germain nodded. "How well can you imitate the manner? Oh, not those of the first consequence, but of the most aspiring of the rich bourgeois?"

The former majordomo shrugged. "I have never tried it, Prinz, but I am certain I know the sort you mean. I can ape the part well enough."

"Then you will be the one to make the bargain for me." He saw the startled expression on the man's face. "There is a gambling establishment in le Faubourg Saint-Germain"— here he smiled to himself—"number nine, Quai Malaquais. The place was built in the time of the thirteenth Louis, and has had an uneven career. It is called Hôtel Transylvania."

"It was called that for another Ragoczy, was it not, Highness?" Sattin ventured when the silence in the room had grown too long.

"I believe it had that name before then," Saint-Germain said, as if he knew little of the matter. "But there was a Ragoczy at that Hôtel thirty years ago."

"Your father?" Sattin's question was echoed in the faces of the other Guild Brothers.

"If you like."

The sorcerers looked at each other, the walls, the light of the fire, anywhere that did not entail looking at the neat figure in the dark clothes who waited patiently for them to give him their attention once again.

"What is it we are to do about this Hôtel Transylvania?" Domingo y Roxas asked for all the group.

"I desire you will purchase it for me. You may say that I have a sentimental attachment to the name, or the building, if you require a reason for this," he said, anticipating their questions. "I will give you sufficient funds to buy it ten times over. I hope you will not have to spend that much, but whatever it costs, you will purchase Hôtel Transylvania for me. Is that understood?"

"It is, Prinz Ragoczy."

Pesche and Oulen, the sorcerers who had taken Le Grâce from the room, returned, and sat demurely at the far end of the table.

"That little book of l'Abbé Prévost has made an unpleasant name for Hôtel Transylvania," Saint-Germain mused. "It was not so reputed when... my father... was there. So," he said briskly, looking up from the fire, "you are to buy Hôtel Transylvania without once bringing my name into it. You may say that you are an agent for another, or that you are purchasing the Hôtel for yourself. But at no time are you even to mention my name. If I had wanted it known the Hôtel is mine, I could have used any solicitor and the Police would have knowledge of the transaction within the hour. Your discretion is absolute, I trust?"

"It is, Highness."

"Good." He turned to the sorcerer who had been a ma- jordomo. "What is your name?"

"Cielbleu," he answered promptly. "Henri-Louis Cielbleu."

"Charming. A name to inspire confidence. You may use that or any other name you would like when you conduct negotiations with the current owners of the Hôtel."

"What will you do with it once you have it?" Pesche asked respectfully, but with curiosity and avarice in his eyes.

"Open it to the world, of course. It has too long been the poor relation to the Hôtel de Ville. That will change."

"Highness...," Domingo y Roxas began, "why do you want this place? Is it because you are Transylvanian yourself?"

There was a faraway look in Saint-Germain's compelling eyes as he said, "I suppose it is because Transylvania is my native land, and I have been Prince of the Blood there." His expression cleared. "It is true, gentlemen, that one's native earth has a pull, no matter how long, or at what distances one lives. Say, then, that it is a whim of mine, and let me indulge it. In return, you will have the secret of the jewels. It is not a bad bargain."

Beverly Sattin regarded him evenly. "When must this be done?"

"As soon as possible, my dear Sattin. I wish to own Hôtel Transylvania before October is quite over." He pushed his diamonds into a heap on the table. "You will pay for the Hôtel with these. I think you will find that their value is high enough to meet any price the owner might name. And if the Police learn of my ownership, I will know you for my enemies and will deal with you appropriately." He fingered the diamond he had driven into the table. "You will have to pry this one loose. Make the landlord give you a knife." He rose and gathered his cloak about him, preparing to leave. "I will be here at this hour in ten days' time. You will tell me then what progress you have made."

"Prinz Ragoczy," Sattin said. "What of Le Grâce?"

Saint-Germain drew his elegant brows together. "What an annoyance he is." He fingered the ruby at his throat. "For the time being confine him there. You may take turns guarding him. And be sure that your guard is of flesh and blood, and armed with a heavy cudgel. It would be inconvenient if he should escape." He regarded them once more, thinking that though they were disappointing, he had seen worse.

"In ten days' time. Highness," Sattin said, making a profound bow.

Saint-Germain returned the bow in moderation, then swept out of the Inn of the Red Wolf into the clammy dark of the Paris night.

 

 

Excerpt from a letter written by the Marquis de Montalia to the Abbé Ponteneuf, dated September 21,1743:

 

...
So, my dear cousin, you will understand my concern for my daughter, Madelaine. My wife's arguments have convinced me, but I cannot but feel grave apprehension should my child fall into certain hands. Madelaine will arrive in Paris on the fourth or fifth day of October in the company of her maid, Cassandre Leuf, who has been in service to our family for over twenty years. I have no fear for her while Cassandre looks after her. But this is not enough. It is my desire that you watch over her and give her the benefit of your good counsel, for we both know the temptations rife in the court of our beloved sovereign.

I am certain you will like Madelaine, for she is a sensible girl of superior intellect. The Sisters of Ste. Ursule who educated her have praised her scholarship and were saddened that she felt no vocation for religious life. Indeed, the only complaint that was made of her was that she has little patience with those less intelligent than she, and that she has a certain

disquieting love of the bizarre and fantastic. My wife is convinced that marriage and children will dispel these quirks in a nature otherwise sweet and responsive....

I have heard through my sister, la Comtesse d'Argenlac, with whom Madelaine will be staying, that Beauvrai is to be found in good circles again, on his wife's cachet. I need hardly tell you that any association with Beauvrai is not to be tolerated. Any of those who were part of Saint Sebastien's set must not be allowed to contaminate my daughter. Let me urge you to be rigorous in guarding my child from such as those.

...Should Madelaine desire to marry, I beg you to be certain that it is her heart that speaks, and not desire for advancement. All too often marriage is born of the expectation of others, and not the strong ties of the heart. My wife has charged my sister with the task of finding Madelaine a suitable husband, and to be sure, it would please me to see her happily settled. But I could not bear to see her life blighted as so many others have been. I rely on you to know her true heart....

In the name of the God Whom we both revere and worship, and Who has brought you to salvation out of the fires of Hell, I commend myself to you, and beg that you will remember my sins in your prayers. In this world I have the honor to be

BOOK: Hotel Transylvania
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