Monica was eating breakfast with Howard and Angelica when a servant ran up to her with a calling card.
Lady Clarissa Janson
Woman of the gentry and unicorn of the Seelie court
Monica handed the card back to the servant. “See her in. I’ll meet her in the front parlor.”
“Janson?” Howard asked. “I know that name.”
“He’s an important duke from England,” said Angelica.
He was also the demon Mephastophilis, which put Monica on edge. However, Clarissa Janson claimed to be a faerie, and no faerie who was allowed to refer to themself as such would align themself with anyone who worshipped or honored any kind of superior force. That was sometimes the only way to tell faerie from werewolf: the werewolves honored the Things. The faeries honored nothing and held nothing sacred.
So, hopefully, Mrs Clarissa Janson wouldn’t be serving Satan now. Hopefully.
Monica went to the front parlor, a small room with two sofas facing each other and a fireplace on the back wall, and sat down on the sofa facing the window that looked out onto the street. Caro wandered in a few minutes later and sat down on the sofa next to her. She had her doll Catherine, and was busily sticking pins into its arms.
“Aren’t you hurting her?” Monica said.
Caro shrugged. “Wanna see something funny, Mama?”
Catherine the doll had a hard head made of plaster and wood. Caro threw the doll across the room and laughed gleefully when its head thwocked on the hard wooden floor.
“Caro!” Monica said.
“That wasn’t very nice to poor Catherine.”
“She’s only a doll.”
“But you threw her across the room!”
“You wouldn’t like it if someone threw you across the room.”
“My head doesn’t make as funny a sound when it hits the floor.”
That was a relief to hear, at least.
A servant opened the door. “Mrs Janson here to see you, ma’am.”
“Thank you, please let her in.”
“Do I have to leave, Mama?” Caro asked.
“No, you can stay, dear.”
The door opened again, and a young woman with platinum blonde hair came in. She was a handsome young woman, with a round face, button nose, and sparkling eyes. She wore a red dress in the latest fashion, which contrasted against her pale skin and hair.
“Mrs Carter,” Mrs Janson said. “Good morning to you, and to your… daughter?”
“Yes, Caro is my adopted daughter. Say good morning to Mrs Janson, Caro.”
“Good morning, Mrs Janson!”
Mrs Janson smiled. “Good morning, Caro. How are you today?”
“Very good! Do you want to see something funny?”
Monica knew exactly what she was going to do, but Mrs Janson presumably didn’t, which was probably why she had such a horrified look on her face when Caro threw her doll across the room again.
“You mustn’t be so cruel to your doll,” Mrs Janson said. “They have eyes and ears, you know. You should be careful or it might just take you away while you’re sleeping.”
What kind of a comment was that? ‘Be careful with your doll, little girl, or it might abduct you while you’re sleeping.’ Monica stood up and led Caro out of the room. “You go play with your siblings, alright? Go see what Charlotte is doing.”
Charlotte was her second youngest daughter, and Caro’s constant companion, especially during the summer months. Caro bounced off, and Monica went back into the room with Mrs Janson. “Sorry about that. Caro is a bit of a wild child.”
“Oh, no, it’s just alright. You’re Monica Carter, right?”
Monica sat down on the sofa, unsure why this Englishwoman would be so interested in who she was. “Yes, that’s my name.”
“Well, Mrs Carter, you see, I… erm…”
“If you’re about to say something related to the Seelie court, know that I, as an angel, am ready to believe you.”
Mrs Janson looked shocked, but relieved. “Oh. That’s good.”
“What did you want to tell me?”
“I was raised by King Oberon and Queen Titania on the border of the Unseelie court, but I am not their biological child.”
“No. In fact, I am told that I belong to this family.”
That was unsurprising, given the faeries had a history of stealing babies from their cradles. Monica went and got the family Bible, with the family tree in it. It took her a moment to find anything promising, but then she spotted a baby girl named Clarissa who had ‘died’ just after being born in 1814. Monica handed the book to Mrs Janson and pointed to the child. “I think that this might be you.”
“Yes, that looks right.” Mrs Janson craned her neck to get a better view. “Oberon said that my father is Percy Carter Sr.”
“That’s my grandfather,” said Monica. He was also possibly the father of her adopted daughter, but she didn’t say that.
“It’s nice to meet you. Are any of my brothers and sisters still alive?”
“Yes, there’s my uncle Joseph and his wife Josephine, and my aunt Emily, and her husband my uncle Robert, but he’s bedridden and likely won’t be with us much longer.”
“I want to meet Robert before he goes,” Mrs Janson said.
“You will.” Monica stood up and rang for a servant. “Why don’t you come with me and I’ll get a bed prepared for you and your husband to sleep in tonight? It’ll be a lot better than a hotel.”
“I would like that.”
Monica led her upstairs. There was an empty bedroom with a double bed right by the staircase up to the third floor, which she didn’t have any plans for in the near future. It was a good sized room, with an adjoining closet and bathroom, that she figured Mr and Mrs Janson would find quite adequate for their needs.
“Thank you, Mrs Carter,” Mrs Janson said.
“You’re very welcome, Mrs Janson.”
“Please… I know I’m older than you, but I still feel younger. Please call me Clara.”
She wasn’t older than her, since Monica was an angel who had existed since time itself was created, but it would have been rude to correct her there, so she didn’t. “Alright, Clara, I can call you whatever you want.”
“Would you and your husband like to dine with us tonight?”
“We would love to.”
Monica smiled at her. “Very good.” She took Clara’s hand and led her upstairs to the room where Addison lay abed. “Addi?”
He looked up from the whale book he was reading. “Mama?”
“This is Mrs Janson. Say hello to Mrs Janson, Addison.”
Addison smiled politely. “Hullo, Mrs Janson.”
“Hullo, Addison,” Clara said. She shook Addison’s hand. “What’s that you’re reading, there?”
“It’s a book about cetology.”
“Do you like cetology?”
“Yeah, I do.”
“What’s your favorite whale?”
“The right whale. It has all the right things.”
“That’s a good choice.”
“Thank you, Mrs Janson.”
Monica felt Addison’s head to check for a fever. Luckily, he seemed like he was just fine. She kissed his forehead and led Clara down to James and Joseph’s room.
Joseph was fiddling with something small and wooden rather than doing his schoolwork. Monica gently took the thing out of his hands and put it in her pocket. “Joseph, darling, you need to focus.”
He was obviously angry. “I’m sorry!”
He glared at her and pointed to the door. “Close it!”
“Say hullo to Mrs Janson first, Joseph.”
“Hullo, Mrs Janson.”
Monica closed the door and went downstairs. “There’s also James and Mildred, my eldest, and Charlotte, Joseph’s twin sister. They’ll be there at dinner tonight.”
“That’s nice to hear. I’m looking forward to meeting the rest of your family.”
Monica smiled. “I’m glad to hear it. I was going to go take a little nap. Do you mind if I do that?”
“Of course not.”
Monica left Clara with Angelica, and went upstairs to her bedroom. She slipped out of her dress and undid her hair, then climbed into bed and shut her eyes.
She wasn’t physically in her home in Heaven, but she could have information from there given to her when she dreamed. She saw an ancient library with a well that contained something terrible, watched over by a figure in a red monk’s outfit who had served as sentinel for ages beyond counting. He was reading when she arrived, but he was quick to talk.
“I would assume you know what the antichrist is?” the Man in Red asked.
“Yes, I know what that is.”
“And you know what the Things Without Faces are?”
The Man in Red bookmarked what he was reading and closed the book. “Gods will have their prophets.”
“They are not gods.”
The Man in Red shrugged. “They might be.”
“They have a prophet all the same.”
“Who is it?”
“Someone visited by one of them regularly.”
“That’s too vague.”
“Someone baptized by death in liquid. Seawater, maybe, or blood.”
“Does the person know?”
“They might. They might be a person who does and says odd things because they know. They might be someone who represses memories of their death in liquid. They might not have returned yet.” The Man in Red lit a candle. “They might be dissatisfied with their lot in life, or they may have a reason to live. In any case, they’ll be ready for change, and even if they don’t know it, they’re doing that by heralding the Things in.”
“It’s not Doctor Faust, is it?” Monica knew about that. Everyone who was anyone knew about that, and the ripples it had created.
“It’s not. He’s still on his first life.”
“You’d love to see your kin back,” Monica said.
“Alas, I admit it.”
“I’ll bet you created the prophet yourself.”
Monica stood up. “You’re giving your enemy an advantage.”
The Man in Red laughed in a low voice. “Ah, angel. Don’t count your eggs before they hatch.”