A Shire Romance – Part Twenty-five

Missed the start? All installments can be found here.

Or go back to part twenty-four.

This was first posted on Silk Screen Views.

PART TWENTY-FIVE – RADAGAST’S MAGIC

Andy shut down his laptop and detached it from the docking station, then he and Tamsyn went back to the penthouse, where they found Radagast awake and nibbling on a custard cream. Tamsyn smiled when she saw him and indicated the biscuit. “You must be doing well, you’re eating something.”

Radagast smiled back. “I do appear to be recovering faster than previously. Esmeralda’s food likely has a lot to do with that.”

Tamsyn sat down cross-legged on the foot of the bed and motioned to Andy. “This is my very good friend Andy McIntyre. He knows everything there is to know about your situation, and he has thought up a solution which we would like to discuss with you. Are you able to do so now, or do you need to rest still?”

“I think I can stay awake for another hour or so,” Radagast replied, taking another biscuit from the pack. “But I have to ask – what is that smell?”

“That would be London,” Tamsyn said with a wry smile. “I’m afraid I had to take you home with me.”

“London,” he repeated, sounding almost wistful. “I never yet managed to visit there. As you can imagine, with the portal where it is, my own two feet can only get me so far.”

“Well, I’ll be happy to show you around, but you’ll probably be sick of the sight of it soon enough. Anyway, our plan?”

“Yes, of course, do tell.”

Tamsyn told him of the reluctance of the site owners to sell and Andy’s idea for a nature reserve dependent on endangered species. When she’d finished, Radagast stroked his beard thoughtfully.

“You, young man, have a very good head on your shoulders,” he said. “Yes, I may indeed be of assistance with that, though it won’t be easy. I would need to see real examples of both species before I could duplicate them, and I will need to ensure that the site can cater for their needs.”

“I’ve done my best to find species that I think can thrive there,” Andy said. “But if you say you can check the site for certain, then of course you should. We’re here to give you any assistance you need.”

“Thank you,” the wizard said, closing his eyes and leaning back into the pillows. “I cannot sufficiently express my gratitude in words, but I will be indebted to you forever.”

Tamsyn shook her head. “Radagast, the man I love lives in that world, but even if he didn’t, I couldn’t live with my conscience if I allowed an entire world to be destroyed. Especially not Middle-Earth, and especially not if I could have done something to prevent it.”

She left the room feeling better about herself, but her good mood lasted exactly until her next toilet visit when she noticed spots of blood in her underwear, indicating that her period had arrived. She was just reaching for the sanitary pads when the full significance of it hit her and she sank to the floor, utterly devastated.

She wasn’t pregnant.

She would never hold a little copy of Perry in her arms, would never see him again through her son or daughter.

When Andy finally came looking for her, he found her leaning against the bathroom wall, crying bitter tears for something she would not explain to him, but which he guessed was related to Perry. He carried her to her bed, where she clung to him until she cried herself to sleep.

 *   *   *   *   *

To forget her double loss, Tamsyn embarked on a whirlwind of activity. Radagast took three more days to fully recover, but after that the first thing they did was buy him some different clothes, going for the elderly scientist look with corduroy trousers, sweaters with leather elbow pads and tweed jackets. They trimmed his beard to a neat goatee, then proceeded to cart him to every single zoo and bird centre they could find on the internet and in the yellow pages. They finally found a red-backed shrike in an ornithologist’s aviary in some obscure place in the south of Wales, and Radagast spent three hours studying it in depth before he declared himself satisfied.

The orchids proved less elusive, and were found in the third horticulturist’s garden they visited. Here too Radagast took several hours, claiming he needed the time to fully ‘understand’ the species. With that accomplished, however, he was ready to inspect the site, so Tamsyn and Andy dutifully drove him back to Somerset.

The site was now the centre of a legal dispute between Moriarty & Co. and Donnan & Donnan Real Estates Ltd, with the Donnan brothers refusing all offers to sell. Desperate to keep the project from restarting, Tamsyn had been forced to play her hand and declare that she suspected the presence of endangered species on the site. It had triggered the building of a bird observation hut, and a possible visit from two horticultural experts; something they were not yet ready for, since Radagast had yet to produce his specimens.

Andy opened the gate in the fence when they arrived and locked it again behind him, but five minutes into their trek Radagast said, “I think we are being observed.”

“Don’t look, act natural,” Tamsyn said. “Is it the man in the bird hut?”

“Can’t be,” Andy said. “They built that over on the other side.”

“Then it must be the Donnans or their flunkies. Fuck. Any ideas on how to shake them?”

“Allow me,” Radagast said. “Please take my arm so I can continue to walk with my eyes closed.”

Tamsyn obliged and he started whispering intently. She could not make out the words, but they carried the same ring of ultimate command, and she felt the hairs on the back of her neck stand up. After a few minutes he stopped his muttering and stumbled. “That should do it,” he said. “Please, I need to sit down a moment.”

She led him to a flat rock, and Andy offered him a bar of chocolate, which he gratefully accepted. “What did you do?” he asked the wizard.

“Nothing serious, but they’ll find that they cannot see us anymore, nor can they get their bearings for a few hours. They will be completely lost.”

Andy sniggered. “Neat. Useful to have at hand.”

Radagast smiled wanly, then pushed himself back to his feet with a deep sigh. “Come, let me show you where the portal is.”

Tamsyn wasn’t sure what she had expected, but certainly something more than just two boulders close together, with just enough room for someone to pass, provided they hadn’t overindulged on cake and chocolate. She squinted at it, hoping to see some strange twisting of the air, or a vague shimmering at the corner of her vision, but whichever way she looked at it, they remained nothing more than two big boulders.

Radagast gave a small smile, walked between them and disappeared. Two seconds later he reappeared out of thin air. “Satisfied?”

Tamsyn blushed. “I believed you, I just thought it would look more… I don’t know, impressive.”

“Tamsyn, my dear, if it looked impressive it wouldn’t have remained hidden all these thousands of years.” He looked around, then sat down, resting his back against one of the boulders. “Now I need to attune myself to the land. This will take several hours, I’m afraid.”

Andy nodded. “We’ll keep watch.”

It was a long wait, during which it seemed as if Radagast had simply fallen asleep, but he finally opened his eyes again and nodded. “The site is suitable for both species.”

Tamsyn felt a tension flow away she hadn’t even realised she carried, and shared a hug with Andy. “Fantastic! Now what?”

“Now I call them to me,” Radagast said. “The flower first, I think. It will be easier. Follow me, I know where it wants to live.”

He set out with long, distance-devouring strides, and after five minutes they reached a small, boggy area, where Radagast knelt down next to a spot sheltered by two small rocks. He cupped his hands over it and began to hum quietly; a soft, eerie melody with a haunting quality to it. After a while Tamsyn discerned a repeated litany of words with a quality to them which she could only describe as flowery. A muted light began to glow between the wizard’s fingers, and after half an hour he finally stopped chanting and sagged back. On the spot were now three plants which had not been there before, with distinct orchid-like flowers.

“Bring on the horticulturists,” Andy said, and Tamsyn squeezed his hand, then knelt down.

“Radagast, are you alright?” she asked. “Are you capable of calling the birds as well?”

He nodded, though he looked very tired again. “I will manage, but I will need to rest again after that,” he said. “Magic is so difficult these days… It was never easy, but I do not recall that I needed to rest so much back when Mithrandir was still with us.”

“Maybe it’s just this world,” Tamsyn said. “I can’t imagine it is very friendly to magic-users, since we have none of our own.”

“Perhaps, perhaps,” he conceded. “Please, help me up.”

He led them to a different part of the site, where a few bushes and trees sheltered a sheer rock face of about seven feet high. He began another chant, but this time the words had a distinct bird-like quality. When he finished, the trees held a small nest with a pair of light brown birds, similar in size to blackbirds.

“Is this anywhere near the bird hut?” Tamsyn asked, turning to Andy.

He looked around and half-shrugged. “I’m not sure where it is in relation to here, but if these birds range far enough, I’m sure they’ll be spotted. I’m more worried about those flowers – I wouldn’t put it past the Donnans to destroy them just to keep their precious site.”

“Call the horticulturists now, they’re local, aren’t they?” Tamsyn said. “We can guard the flowers until they arrive.”

“I fear I must rest before then,” Radagast interjected.

“Mind if we stick you in the back of the car for now?” Andy asked.

Radagast laughed; a thin, wheezy sound. “As I’m sure you’ve observed by now, once I’m asleep I notice very little. The car will be fine.”

“I’ll take him,” Tamsyn said. “You sort out the experts.”

 *   *   *  *   *

The experts turned out to be a couple of late middle age, somewhat curt for having been roused at short notice. When they saw the orchids, however, their mood shifted to elation.

“Such beautiful specimens!” the woman exclaimed, dropping down onto the peaty soil with complete disregard for her clothes. She produced a small test tube and carefully snipped off a piece of leaf with a pair of nail clippers. “We’ll get these analysed to ensure it is the correct genus, but I have little doubt. We are indebted to you, Miss Moriarty, especially as you stand to lose a great deal of money if this project is abandoned.”

There was a question implicit in the statement, and Tamsyn smiled at the woman. “I may be a building magnate, but I have a great appreciation of the natural world,” she said. “If this site contains an endangered species, I would much rather it stayed as it is. There are enough buildings in the world.” She considered for a moment, then added, “I am hoping to buy this site and turn it into a nature reserve, but the current owners are proving to be extremely obstructive. If you were somehow able to… ease the negotiations, I would be very grateful. I will do everything in my power to protect this site, but I would need to own it first to do so.”

“I see,” the woman said, exchanging a glance with her husband. “Do you know why they are uncooperative? Are you…” She coughed delicately. “Forgive me for being blunt, but are you not offering them enough?”

Andy cut in. “The site is worth around four and a half to five million pounds as real estate, considerably less if real estate is no longer a possibility. Either way, Miss Moriarty will offer the full value.”

“Just to turn it into a nature reserve?”

“Yes,” Tamsyn said. “I’ll be happy to give you a written statement to that effect, if you wish?”

“We would appreciate that,” the woman said, after a moment’s thought.

Andy produced a pen, pad and clipboard, and Tamsyn wrote a quick statement and signed it. “Good luck in dealing with the Donnans,” she said as she handed it over.

The woman’s eyes widened. “The Donnans, you say? They own this site?”

“Yes,” Tamsyn replied. “You know them?”

“Oh, do we know them.” She exchanged another glance with her husband, and they both nodded grimly. “This time we’ll get the fu… uhh…” She stopped mid-word, glancing at Tamsyn.

“Please, don’t mince your words on my account,” Tamsyn sniggered. “They are a bunch of fuckers. And to be frank, even if there were no endangered species here, I’d turn this into a nature reserve just to spite them.”

The woman stared at her for a few moments, then gave a slow smile and held out her hand. “A pleasure making your acquaintance, Miss Moriarty. We’ll be in touch, and we may request your help at a later date.”

“You have it,” Tamsyn said, and with that they took their leave.

Will this suffice to save the site? Find out in part twenty-six!

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