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Perryn and Mike exchanged a sad look at the mention of Emily’s name.

It was the first time that Amos had considered that there might be a connection between the disappearance of Marcel and the disappearance of Emily.

“Emily had…” the Mayor started to speak, but Mike interrupted:

“No. Perryn, I think we need to tell him everything. To start in the middle would…well, it’s time.” Mike gave his husband an encouraging smile and Perryn stood from the table, walking to his ornate wooden desk and searching for a moment through a large drawer. Mike smiled kindly at the two young people sitting in front of him, already overwhelmed with information. However, he knew in his heart it was time to discuss everything and to move forward into a future without any more unnecessary confusion.

The Mayor returned to his seat with a thick file full of paperwork which he slid across the table to Amos.

Amos was perplexed and opening the folder curiously he searched through the documents. Years of legal briefs and letters of appeal, character testimonials and receipts for services billed and paid, all bearing his name and a case number. “What?” Amos asked, his mind drawing conclusions he was too overwhelmed to utter aloud.

“Perryn and I tried for years to adopt you, Amos. We never told you because we knew it would be  difficult and we didn’t want to raise your hopes,” Mike said sadly, “You were always part of our family. It’s just…the laws in Meiville forbid us from adopting a boy because,” Mike paused, looking at Perryn with a soft smile, “well, because we are unconventional. We fought it but… well you know, people have their ideas and often they endure long after the point of reason had prevailed. We weren’t even allowed to have you for visits unless another adult was present, which is why so often Marcel would join us.” Mike sighed and Perryn took his hand.

Amos, thumbed through the papers quietly, unable to hold back tears. He had always wondered why the Mayor had not adopted him. Having proof of their efforts and a real reason why left him speechless. A hard lump had formed in his throat. His eyes felt the sting of tears.

“Marcel was so fond of you, it was so difficult for him when the two of you fell out.” the Mayor said, “When he discovered that you had refused to help Emily in her efforts to take his key he was heartbroken. He had judged you wrongly. He was so unhappy that he had not given you a second chance. He felt he had failed you for it. But it was too late to make amends, you were gone,” he could see the emotion in Amos’ face and paused.

“After you left, Emily changed. She was completely single minded about her contraption. She would have fits, seizures, sometimes confined to her bed for days but once her body recovered she would head right back to the machine as devoted as ever. It was like she was possessed.” Perryn said sadly.

“Marcel was concerned as well and spoke with her. He had filled her head with fairy stories of Lys as a child but he had never explained the nightmare that his accidental voyage had created.  He tried to her explain how dangerous it was to cross the barriers between our world and those outside, but it was too late. She couldn’t be deterred. We stopped talking to her most days,  her temper had become unpredictable and her words!”

Perryn and Mike were both visibly distressed recalling the days before Emily’s disappearance.

“Marcel eventually decided to cut her off. Without the resources of his store and access to his tools and journals  he thought she might be forced to find a new hobby. She was furious and set on him like a demon when she found out. She blamed Marcel for your leaving. In one breath she cursed Mike and I for not trying hard enough to adopt, then she would accused us of never wanting to adopt her with the next. She made threats and promises, anything she could think of in order to continue work on her machine.

When that failed she fell into a fit, the worst we had seen, at times her body was so contorted that we thought she would come in two.” Perryn took Mike’s hand. It was terribly difficult for them to discuss, and Mike was openly weeping.

“She was in bed much of the early summer after the event, and she seemed to recover not only her health but also her sweetness and sensibilities. She took to reading and singing and spending time in the garden. We were so pleased when she announced that she was planning to attend the Midsummer Masquerade.” Perryn continued sadly, “She was stunning in her dress. If we had known…”

Amos and Nym sat close to one another, holding each other’s hands unable to speak.

“It was the last time we saw her,” Mike said through his tears.

“She didn’t go to the Ball, you see. She had convinced Alexi Carton to escort her, but they never arrived. They spent that evening breaking into Marcel’s store. Emily had succeeded in copying Marcel’s keys, no one knows how. The next morning, Alexi was found mutilated, the cage of Kronos empty, and Emily and her machine were gone.” Mayor Perryn’s hands were shaking as he picked up his teacup and saucer, “No one knows what happened to Alexi…how he… if Emily…”

“No.” Amos stood up again. Nym looked at him, worried and unsure if she should follow.  “No. No. No.”  Was all he could say. He turned his back and left the Mayor’s office.

He needed air. It was too much.

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