REAVER IS A VERY NICE MAN
Albion’s leading newspaper presents the third and final part in a series delving into the most enduring mystery of all: Theresa! Is this mythical soothsayer real? What has she been up to all these years? And how come she just won’t die? Investigative reporter Penelope Chumley finds out.
A shiver ran down my spine, bounced off my buttocks and squirrelled its way down my designer shoes, curling my toes. I was standing in the secret headquarters of B.A.T.S. (Bowerstone’s Anti-Theresa Society), having been led here by a shadowy individual who’d promised to show me evidence of Theresa’s corrupting influence on our world. The man had brought me to a dark, almost ritualistic room, part-library, part-museum. Ancient documents lay under glass cases, books lined the walls, objects stood on pedestals.
I opened one of the books, titled Arcane Politics: Albion Ruled from the Shadows. Along chapters on the old Heroes’ Guild (which it seems had once tried to overrun the world until the people rose against it) and a secret plot to alter the personal habits of all Albionites using doctored prune juice, there was one on Theresa. It claimed she was responsible for an outbreak of hiccups that completely spoiled the Oakfield Apple-Bobbing Festival that year. I skimmed through a few other books, finding similar accounts of the seeress’s pernicious influence: she caused the storm that flooded all the basements in what had then been called the Bowerstone Slums; she raised the global temperature by one degree, making everyone sweat just that little bit more in the summer; she plotted the extinction of almost all domestic animals, which explained why dogs were so rare and nobody remembered seeing a cat in a really, really long time… The accusations went on.
Turning my attention to the museum pieces, I noticed a copy of Theresa’s fire-damaged birth certificate. It listed her father as Brom and her mother as Scarlet Robe, but her date of birth had been erased by flames. Slightly less authentic-looking was a sealed document titled How I Plan to Take Over the World, by Theresa. Unfortunately, the objects around these documents had little in the way of explanation, so I was forced to speculate on her connection to such items as a spoon, a boot and a music box key. More intriguing still was a ripped dog collar.
“Is this supposed to prove her part in exterminating most cats and dogs from Albion? Or did she have a dog of her own?”
There was no reply so I turned around in search of my guide to find the room empty and the door closed. I’d been so engrossed in my research, I hadn’t noticed him leave. I rattled the door knob. It was locked.
“Don’t worry, my sweet, I’m merely ensuring our privacy.” It was Reaver, who had somehow appeared behind me. “And that,” he added, nodding at the collar, “belonged to the beloved pet of a great Hero I once knew. Theresa arranged for the poor beast to be shot, indirectly of course, always indirectly, just to stir the fires of vengeance in that Hero’s bosom.”
I found it hard to speak at first. I’d heard enough stories about Reaver to send that shiver nestling in my shoes clear around the world. He was also extraordinarily handsome. At least in the poor light of the room.
“How—how do you know?” I managed to mumble.
“Why, my dear, I was there! I’m sorry to say I too was taken in by this machiavellian harpy. She tricked me, forced me, to assist her in one of her many ruses to alter the course of history. I saw through her in the end though. That is why I made it my life’s work to expose her. Come. Sit.”
He drew out a chair and pulled on a candle-holder attached to the wall. A recess opened to reveal a tray with a bottle of brandy and two glasses. We sat. He poured. He spoke. And what a marvellous tale it was, told with the skill of a seasoned, charismatic raconteur. So marvellous I can hardly do it justice, but here is the gist:
Full of courage and righteous anger, Reaver went on a long trek around the world, not only to uncover Theresa’s treacheries, but to find out how she had become immortal. He began by investigating the Court of Shadows, since he’d heard that some people had attained immortality by making nefarious deals with them. In fact, he even thought she might be a member of the Court herself. It was clear, however, that even the Court shied away from her monstrous schemes. It was not they who had unleashed the Theresa curse on future generations.
After years of following the trail of chaos she’d left in her wake and interrogating various people, Reaver finally made a breakthrough. There was a hermit in a remote mountain-top who had once taken Theresa in shortly after the events with Jack of Blades. Reaver braved the elements and climbed the mountain in search of further clues. He found more than that. He found the hermit himself, a pitiable creature, more skeleton than man, who called himself Scythe.
Scythe had been a Hero himself, long ago, perhaps since the beginning of time itself, for he had mastered the secrets of death, and used this power to protect Albion through the centuries. But, exhausted after millennia of such toil, he could go on no longer. It was in this state that Theresa found him, and convinced him to share his secret so that she might continue the work he’d started. And thus was Albion doomed.
There it was. The truth of Theresa’s longevity. I took a sip of brandy to calm my nerves and asked Reaver a question that had been burning in my mind:
“Aren’t you—I mean, you’re immortal too, right? You’ve been around so long, and still look so…”
“Handsome? Vigorous? It’s all down to a good diet, plenty of exercise and a jolly large amount of lovemaking. At least I have always been content to look as I have. Theresa on the other hand, if you can believe this, has actually had some work done. The old hag wanted to make herself look younger. Tsk! The nerve!”
He stood up and opened the door.
“Now, Ms Chumley. Go forth and enlighten your readers. I’m certain you will do your profession proud.”
I walked out into the night, a little more afraid of the dark forces working against us, but grateful and blessed to have been in the company of such a wonderful and benevolent soul. I hope, dear readers, you will always think of him that way, and remember who the real cause of all your troubles is: Theresa.
P.S. Mr Reaver, I hope this article meets with your approval and that my parents, whom you so kindly allowed to stay in your alligator pit after their house mysteriously burned down, will now be able to leave.