Mr.Parkinson, the British Consul, asked of our recent experiences and I was on the point of responding, in the middle of the scones, when Lady H pushed on with a very tame account of the matter. It was fortunate that our letters concerning these things had arrived before us. I gathered he had attempted to communicate with the Prussian representative about it, without success and that the Turks had denied everything.
We have resolved to set off tomorrow and have cabled the Count with this information. Lady H has been in the library all afternoon to read all she could find on the local fae. I myself decided to combine two tasks and spent some time with the maps, planning for my long-postponed expedition and assessing the route to Zaluznik in Croatia. I believe it will take us two days by coach. There is a good road most of the way though the last section of the journey takes us through the mountains. I do hope there will be time for me to explore for plants there.
He told us that the road leading to the Count's estate had been partially ploughed up the day before and all attempts by his people to repair it were thwarted until he managed to negotiate with the fae. Thankfully, the road was passable by the time we arrived, possibly largely due to the iron spikes driven into the earth at intervals along the most disrupted stretch.
By the sound of things, the Count had been attempting to out-drink and out-talk everyone and had elaborated our recent adventures into fantastic stories. This last bit from the bailiff, not the Count himself, who greeted us soon after our arrival. He told us how the crops round about were being harvested overnight, often before they were ready and sometimes handed over to the wrong owner. He managed to observe the harvester cutting hay on one occasion but was caught the second time - I gathered that the offended fae meted out some punishment but did not find out what that had consisted of.
Later on, the Count told us of his suspicions regarding the Bailiff's daughter, who he had seen around the haystacks that grew up in his yard overnight. The Bailiff was keeping her indoors because he was aware that she had somehow managed to upset their master. It seemed like a waste of time to me, and I wanted to stretch my legs after all that time in the coach so I left it to Lady H.
The girl had seemed a little odd, Lady H reported, though perhaps that is just how the locals are around here. She had been anxious to establish that although Lady H was a friend of the Count, she was not a 'dear friend', whatever that might signify. The girl had also said that the Count ought to have an heir. It crossed Lady H's mind that the antics of the fae and the attitude of the girl might be linked, and that perhaps someone was using the fae to keep the Count at home.
After my walk I explored the courtyard of the house, and was obliged to use a little magic to create a light. Lady H asked me to see the girl to try and sense whether she might be using magic of some sort. I obliged. My casting of 'Sense Magic' made use of some usually undesirable harmonic effects such that sparks crackled from my fingers and around the girl, which I hope had my desired effect of impressing her. I got no indication that she had used magic. Having, I hoped, put some awe into her, I bade her 'Tell the truth' - clearly my efforts were not impressive enough for she sat in silence, petulantly. I sent for the Count, hoping she would not lie to him. While he was being fetched she relented sufficiently to tell us that the fae had been sleeping in the hills, then she burst into tears like the silly girl she obviously is, and we could get no more from her. Her father asked us to leave so we did.
The Count was still indoors as something had occurred. He had just noticed a peasant loitering in the courtyard who looked like one who had recently almost crushed his hand. Suspecting that this might well be the fae, the Count instructed Stephan to call out from the window that the man should come in to be thanked for his work in the fields. We saw him look up at the call and walk towards the door but no-one claimed to have seen him inside the building. The Count issued orders that everyone was too look out for the fellow and, if they had the chance, to tell him to come and be paid.
The Count then went to see the Bailiff's daughter. She said she meant no harm; she had been walking in the hills and had met someone there, and she agreed with many disrespectful peasants that the Lord was not enough at the estate and should produce an heir. The Count encouraged the girl to find this person again and tell him that we want to pay him for his services.
After dinner we watched to see if there was any resumption of the building of haystacks in the yard. The fae was angry, piling up wood, vines and hay there. We tried to negotiate. The Count tried to intimidate it. I clutched my horseshoe and Lady H drew her gun. Count Z told it that the rules have changed while it was asleep and that it must obey the Second Compact. The Bailiff's daughter dashed out across the courtyard crying 'No!', to clutch at about where its shoulder might be. She explained something to it about misunderstandings which seemed to calm it somewhat. The Count announced that he would ensure that the land was well looked after and that in the matter of an heir, he would choose a lady from Europe. The fae bowed and left. The girl told us that it had said it would go back to sleep but she will know where to find it if the land needs it again.