Division 47: The Mystery of the Piper's Flute
By Joanna E Sears
© Monster Zoo Enterprises 2015
What is dark be filled with light,
What was piped be undone
remove this spirit from my sight
What was lost once more become
Oliver led the cavalcade of Federal Vehicles into Tauran Woods. The Fat Proprietor groaned as he saw them park up but rather than wait for the Senior Agent to enter his reception area he walked out to them.
"If you're looking for them other three I sent them onto Wicket's Dell less than five minutes ago." Oliver was half glad the man had approached him it saved him the trouble of having to get out of his car all he had to do was ask
"Which way is Wicket's Dell?" The fat man raised his right arm and pointed. Straight down there to the end then turn left onto Hawthorne Crescent at the end of it you'll see a hump-backed bridge go over it Wicket's Dell is on the right." Oliver nodded his thanks to the man then revved his engine before spinning his SUV around and setting off in the indicated direction.
Rhys had just turned into the lane leading to Wicket's dell when Shukr began to softly growl
Tony knew from the night before the dog had sensed their Quarry. He peered out of the side window and through the trees caught his first glimpse of the brown RV. He leaned forward and laid a hand on Rhys' shoulder to get him to slow down. The Welshman didn't need words he sensed Tony had seen something most likely the Piper or his RV. Rhys spotted
a pull in just ahead. He cut the engine and allowed the car to slide smoothly to a halt in a shielded parking spot under a large drooping Yew. The three slid silently out of the car being careful to close the doors as softly as was possible they did not want to alert the van occupant to their approach. The trio and the hound set off on foot to get as close as possible to the campervan Tony had spotted through the trees. Tangle noted Shukr was growling and his hackles were raised. But as they approached the clearing where the brown van was parked Tony began to hear it. Despite having blocked his ears with soap the strangely hypnotic melody began to grow in his head only this time it was accompanied by a searing heat
that felled him to his knees. He knew the others felt and heard it too. Tangle was trying to speak the invocation she'd discovered but the sound of the Piper's Flute rose above the words and over-powered her.
Tony gasped and clutched at his head as the world around him span, the trees and sky merging into a blurred mass of agonising color. He was vaguely aware of the others being equally afflicted then Shukr reacted Tony sensed more than saw the protecting Gevaudon bound forward and try to leap upon the gaudily attired piper. The clown seemed to suddenly realize the danger he dropped his fife and turned to run, at the same moment a second sound began to filter through the burning in his mind. Tony wasn't sure but he thought he heard the sounds of guns cocking then a voice he recognised blasted through his agony
Despite his pain Tony struggled to his feet. By making a supreme effort he was able to stagger a few paces and throw himself over Shukr protecting the animal from the bullets whizzing about. Tony wasn't exactly sure what happened next. He heard the gunfire and
a cry of pain as the piper was struck but he just kept his head down and his body across
the brave animal that had risked all to save him. Tony wasn't sure how long he lay there but gradually the pain coursing through his body began to dissipate then he heard his brother bellowing instructions
"Who's hurt? Tangle? Rhys? Anthony?" Tony drew in a long slow breath then he rolled of his dog and sat up.
"I'm okay!" He looked across the glade to wear the Piper had stood. The gaudily clad clown was lying on the ground. He was writhing and moaning clearly he'd gone down under a hail of bullets. Tony saw a member of the swat team cautiously approach him as he got close he wrenched the flute the man still held from his closed fist, and threw it to a second member of his squad. Oliver walked over and took the offending article. Tony expected it to be bagged as evidence for the SNO Vault but to his surprise Olive laid the pipe across his knee and snapped it in two then he passed it to Rhys who, Tony noted had recovered a damn sight faster than him. "Burn it now!" Oliver ordered. "I don't know what evil powers it contains but we can never risk it getting free again." The swat man lifted a can of Gasoline from the back of one of the vehicles and as Rhys placed the pieces on the ground he doused the wooden flute with it. The instrument flared up with iridescent orange the second a flaming match was dropped on it but what happed next was unexpected. To those in hearing range it was if a thousand voices were suddenly lifted in joyous song. Tony rubbed his eyes as strange vaporus forms swirled about him. He saw a multitude of faces all different all children, and all singing with happiness. A part of Tony grew cold as he realized these strange ephemeral beings had to be the flute's victims. For five thousand years the monstrous entity had toured the globe enslaving and trapping children but now as it burned they were being released, their souls finally free to soar heavenward. The swirling cavalcade of disembodied infants continued for nearly twenty minutes making many shudder at the extent of the evil embodied within the ancient fife.
Despite a successful conclusion to the case it was two days before Tony finally made it home.
Rhys accompanied him out to his mansion. Oliver had already called ahead and informed Martin that as soon as Tony arrived he was free to release Percy back to him. Rhys glanced over his shoulder Shukr seemed different somehow calmer more relaxed then as they drew up outside his mansion Tony reached back and ruffled the hound's fur.
"You're a fine old chap ain't yer boy?" Shukr raised his head his single red eye blinked and he made a low contented sound in his throat.
"So what's going to happen to him now?" Rhys wondered aloud.
"My guess is he'll probably live out his days as a normal dog now," Tony replied.
"Well let's just hope Percy isn't jealous," Rhys chuckled. Tony had some misgivings as to how Percy was going to react to having been caged for a week and how the rat would respond to his abandonment. He needn't have worried the bio-mechanical animal had already sensed his approach and was squeaking excitedly in its cage these squeaks grew louder as Tony and Rhys stepped into the lounge. Martin stood up to greet the returning heroes.
"I'm glad you're back Percy has been driving us to distraction trying to get out," he held out a key to Tony. A second later Percy was running up his arm and a second after that the pirate rat was nestled in the nape of his neck cooing with pleasure. Jon heard a soft plodding sound and glanced around just as Shukr padded into the lounge.
"Holy Caroli what is that?" Tony smiled.
"Jon meet your new housemate Shukr!" Jon stared at the huge mound of fur.
"What is it? It looks like a cross between a dog and a cow and that red eye is positively scary." Tony and Rhys laughed
"Jon my dear fellow Shukr is a five thousand year old Spectral Gevaudon Hound."
"A what?" Jon asked. Rhys without even looking at Tony had walked out to the kitchen and grabbed a six pack of beers from the fridge then they all sat down and listened as Rhys bought them up to speed on the case they'd finally solved. Jon's face was a mixture of horror and fascination
"The Pied Piper was real?"
"Real yes but one man no, the essence of Cromn Cruach lived on in his Flute enslaving and murdering children through the ages."
"So how does the dog fit into the story?" George asked. He was making notes to be typed up and compiled for his SNO Archive. "It's clear from your narrative that the hound has been around as long as the Piper."
"Actually Shukr probably is as old as Cromn himself, There is a little known legend that
even after Saint Patrick had banished the Snake Worshippers from Ireland he knew they
weren't truly vanquished and that the evil Dark Lord they worshipped would rise again
It is said he called upon the Angels to send an Avenger after them. An undying Angel that
would hunt down every last one of Cromn's adherents even if it took forever."
"And you think Shukr is that Avenger?" Martin queried
"Yes! But now his task is finished and he is free of the burden." Tony looked to John.
"Me and Rhys have often worried about you being alone and vulnerable here but now you have the roughest toughest guardian there is." Jon smiled and held out a hand to the great shaggy mutt. Shukr padded over to him sniffed the out-stretched hand then licked it making Rhys and Tony relax. They both felt a little easier in the back of their minds knowing Jon was protected should the mansion ever be burgled.
Meanwhile at the FBI Dallas office Oliver was reporting to Director Burleigh. The senior man was stunned. "All this time the God has been stealing and murdering children to feed his blood-lust?"
"I think Demon is a more appropriate epithet for Cromn the Bloody," Oliver interrupted.
"And my brother thinks it was the only way he could sustain his life force." Burleigh rose from behind his desk and turned to look out the window.
"Has your brother mentioned if there are any other demons out there?"
"As yet I haven't had time to question the depth of his knowledge," Oliver replied I've given the team a few days leave to recover. Once we've all had a few days R+R I'll sit Tony down with Anstis and get them to start reviewing the old legends in detail."
"Be an ideal task for Fox to be involved in too," Burleigh remarked "The Government is very keen to be seen as working toward integrating as many War Veterans back into main stream society as possible. Oliver gave a non-committed nod but on reflection decided that
the crippled sailor would probably enjoy having a permanent job rather than being reduced
to living on the charity of others. "And George could do with a proper assistant," he mused inwardly. But for now Oliver like the rest of his squad wanted to go home and get some decent sleep. Sleep that wasn't haunted by the screams of dying children.