Authors: Simon R. Green
ALSO BY SIMON R. GREEN
The Man with the Golden Torc
Daemons Are Forever
The Spy Who Haunted Me
From Hell with Love
For Heaven’s Eyes Only
Live and Let Drood
Twilight of the Empire
Swords of Haven
Guards of Haven
Blue Moon Rising
Beyond the Blue Moon
Blood and Honor
Down Among the Dead Men
Drinking Midnight Wine
Once in a Blue Moon
Something from the Nightside
Agents of Light and Darkness
Hex and the City
Paths Not Taken
Sharper Than a Serpent’s Tooth
Hell to Pay
The Unnatural Inquirer
Just Another Judgement Day
The Good, the Bad, and the Uncanny
A Hard Day’s Night
The Bride Wore Black Leather
Ghost of a Chance
Ghost of a Smile
Ghost of a Dream
Spirits from Beyond
Published by the Penguin Group
Penguin Group (USA) LLC, 375 Hudson Street,
New York, New York 10014
USA | Canada | UK | Ireland | Australia | New Zealand | India | South Africa | China
A Penguin Random House Company
First published by Roc, an imprint of New American Library,
a division of Penguin Group (USA) LLC
Copyright © Simon R. Green, 2014
Penguin supports copyright. Copyright fuels creativity, encourages diverse voices, promotes free speech, and creates a vibrant culture. Thank you for buying an authorized edition of this book and for complying with copyright laws by not reproducing, scanning, or distributing any part of it in any form without permission. You are supporting writers and allowing Penguin to continue to publish books for every reader.
REGISTERED TRADEMARK—MARCA REGISTRADA
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING-IN-PUBLICATION DATA:
Green, Simon R., 1955–
Property of a lady faire: a secret histories novel/Simon R. Green.
pages cm.—(Secret histories)
1. Drood, Eddie (Fictitious character)—Fiction. I. Title.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Who Wants to Know?
was just breaking out of a Top Security section of the Vatican, after an entirely successful burglary, when a voice spoke my name. I had been padding very quietly down a corridor that wasn’t on any plan, in a building that didn’t officially exist, and the last thing I expected was to hear my name spoken aloud by a voice I was almost sure I recognised. I stopped and looked quickly about me. I was halfway down a long, unlit hallway, heavy with shadows, with not a light on anywhere in the dozen or so adjoining offices. I was completely alone.
I knew that, because I’d gone to great pains and trouble to make sure of it. Because if the Vatican Security Forces ever found a Drood field agent operating anywhere inside the bounds of the holy city, they would quite definitely never forgive me. The Church might have made occasional use of the Droods down the centuries but has never trusted my family an inch. And I think it is only fair to say, vice versa.
The corridor was so dark I could only just make out its far end, but I was positive there wasn’t another soul anywhere near me. The deep shadows lay undisturbed, and it was so quiet all I could hear was my own slow, controlled breathing. And then the Merlin Glass shot up out of my pocket to hang on the air right in front of my face. I didn’t quite jump out of my skin, and I didn’t actually make the strangulated scream I very much wanted to, but I did regard the hand mirror hovering before me with more than usual interest. Because if your very secret mission has just been utterly compromised and is now lying tits up in the gutter, you might as well enjoy it.
The sorcerer Merlin Satanspawn—and yes, I do mean the one you’re thinking of—had made a present of the Glass to my family some fifteen hundred years ago. We’re still trying to decide whether that was a kindly act or not. Ever since the Merlin Glass fell into my hands, not that long ago, it has proved itself to be highly useful, intensely irritating, and constantly surprising. Not least because I can never lay my hand on the operating manual when I need it.
The Glass looks like a perfectly ordinary hand mirror, with a chased silver handle and back. It can show me views of anywhere on Earth, and grow into a dimensional Doorway big enough to take me there. I’d grown used to that. But I wasn’t at all used to seeing my reflection vanish from the mirror and be replaced by the shifty features of the notorious Harry Fabulous.
I grabbed the mirror by its handle and pulled it close to my face. A pale yellow light was spilling out of the Glass from wherever Harry was, and I didn’t want it to attract unnecessary attention. I was almost out of this very secret part of the Vatican, but
. Burglars should not hang around at the scenes of their crimes, not if they want to grow up to be very old burglars—particularly if the local security forces are authorised to use extreme and distressing levels of violence. But Harry Fabulous had got my attention. No one had ever used the mysterious Merlin Glass as a mobile phone before. I hadn’t even known that was possible.
I tried the door handle on the nearest office, and it turned easily in my grasp. I pushed the door open and slipped silently into the darkened room, pulling the door almost but not completely shut after me. Just in case I needed to make a sudden and hurried exit. The pale yellow light from the hand mirror showed me the rough outlines of furniture and filing cabinets, and not much else. I looked into the Merlin Glass and gave Harry Fabulous my best intimidating glare.
“This had better be important, Harry,” I said quietly. “I am rather busy just at the moment. How did you get this number, anyway?”
“Trust me; this is really very important, Eddie,” said Harry, smiling nervously. “And I mean seriously important, with a heaping side order of urgent. As to how I was able to tap into the Merlin Glass, you really don’t want to know. It would only keep you up nights.”
There was no point in pressing Harry. If he wasn’t prepared to give up his source, it was only because he was more scared of whomever he was working for than he was of me. Mind you, Harry Fabulous was scared of a great many people and things, usually with good reason. Harry is a creature of the shadows, or at least those very grey areas where Law and Morality and Good Sense are only passing things. Harry is a master of the illegal deal, the crafty con, and the kind of borderline business agreement you just know you’ll end up regretting later. Harry Fabulous is your go-to guy for all the things you’re not supposed to want, all the things that are supposed to be impossible to get. Whether it’s a drug or a dream, a girl or a grimoire, a memory from yesterday or a promise of tomorrow, Harry has sources. He can get you anything, for the right price.
He’s not much to look at, but then his kind never is. In his business, it’s never a good idea to stand out from the crowd. A shabby man in shabby clothes, with a hard-worn face and unreadable eyes, Harry always said he could run a game on God, and be well out of town before the penny dropped. But then something went horribly wrong for Harry Fabulous, in a secret back room in one of those very private Members Only clubs well off the main drag in the Nightside . . . And now Harry leads a desperate life of penance and atonement, to make up for . . . whatever it was he did. Doing good deeds, for the good of his soul. Before it’s too late. He hustles around, happy to be helpful to all the right people, mediating between people and groups who couldn’t otherwise talk to one another.