AIMNÉISE Place of Pendants 2

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Chapter Four

The Clue

As they huddled together to be transported to the Glasgow Art Gallery Conall asked a question. “Do ye think we need weapons?”

Both Sloane and Ula gave him an incredulous look.

“Conall we are going to an art gallery not the battle of Moncrief. No, we don’t need weapons, this is 2016 not 1735.”

“Right.” He nodded then clutched his pendant and said the words to transport them. They arrived in an alley a few streets away from the art gallery to avoid attention. No matter how much you try to be careful when travelling from place to place or through time, it is always a risk that someone could see you, and in this case unfortunately, it was a small boy. The child stood with wide eyes and an open mouth as they appeared, standing at the end of the alley.

Ula turned to the boy and smiled at him, he screamed and ran off shouting after his mother that the fairy godmother and her minions had just arrived. Sloane laughed. “Aye, I’m a minion now.”

Putting her hands on her hips Ula huffed trying to hide a smile. “Ok my minions come on, there isn’t much time before they close for the day.”

As Conall and Sloane hurried down the alley after her Conall turned to Sloane. “What’s a minion?”

“I guess it’s something akin to a warrior guardian.” Sloane grumbled back.

“Warrior guardian I can do.” Conall muttered receiving a nod from Sloane. Ula held a laugh as they headed down the street and across a road towards the gallery. Neither one of them knew what a minion was, and Ula wasn’t about to burst their bubble and explain it to them, thinking it would make them fractious.

She was certainly impressed by the size of the building, more like a cathedral with high towers and turrets. Entering through large metal doors they were greeted with a huge tiled room with café, booking desk and people everywhere. Sloane made a bee line for the information desk at his right.

The woman behind the counter informed them seeing the article in the magazine that Conall held out in front of her that the showing of da Vinci’s works had been over for some time.

Ula rolled her eyes. “We know that dear, we are after the person who curated the artworks while it was here.” Huffing with exasperation, Ula thought that she should have more tolerance with this woman, but her tolerance was quickly running out of steam. Not impressed by the woman’s aggravated face as if they were taking up too much of her time.

“Well then you need to speak to Mr Rolingson, he was the curator of the exhibition. You will find him on the next floor up, office 22b.” The woman said turning to greet the next people in line.

They headed for the staircase to the next level. It took some time to find office 22b. When they eventually found it Conall knocked loudly on the door, well it was more he banged his fist as if he was attacking a castle gate. A voice bellowed for them to enter from inside.

The man behind the mahogany desk looked up to see three people standing in front of him.

“What can I do for you.” He smiled at them rising from his chair.

Ula was surprised to see the man was wide in stature but very short, just tall enough to reach her shoulder, with a large stomach, obviously fond of food and drink. There weren’t too many people shorter than she, except children of course. His bald head had a thin ring of white hair looking more like a halo had settled around his head.

Conall couldn’t wait for any introductions and jutted the magazine in front of the man’s face. “Ye are that curator of this here art work?”

’Yes. I was, but the artwork has since left and moved on to another venue, you are too late if you wished to see it.” He said waving his hand in the air.

“We know that.” Ula pulled the phone out of her pocket and bringing up the image of the dead Brollachan thrust it in front of his face. “Do you know this man?”

Rolingson looked at it, shaking his head, but then stopped. “Erm…hang on, it looks like Joseph. Just a minute.” He picked up the phone and hit a couple of numbers. “Alfred if you have a minute would you be so kind as to come to my office.” He hung up the phone and motioned for them to take a seat on a lounge at the side of the room, they didn’t sit preferring to stand.

“So, ye do ken who this is.” Conall jumped in.

“I’m not sure, it looks like Joseph. Alfred is on his way he will be able to affirm if it is he. Perhaps you would like to tell me what this is about.”

Ula was worried that Conall would lose his temper, the mood he was in, she knew if she didn’t keep control of the situation, he would say something he would later regret, or maybe not.

“It is just our niece is missing and apparently this man was the last one to see her.” She wasn’t exactly divulging the whole truth, but the man didn’t need to know why they were looking for him. Not missing though, Conall’s quiet reverberation ‘bloody Sassenach’, thankfully not loud enough for the curator to hear.

“And who would you be then?” Rolingson asked.

“I’m sorry, my name is Ula Sutherland.”

When Rolingson moved his gaze to the two men beside me. Sloane crossed his arms in front of his chest. “We are her minions.” Ula put her hand to her mouth to hold back a grin. Sloane had barked it out as if he and Conall were the knights of a King and Rolingson was a lowly farmer.

Rolingson’s forehead suddenly went up just as a knock came to the door, he hollered for whoever it was to come in, not taking his eyes from Sloane.

A small man in a security uniform entered the room, and small he was, being at least an inch shorter than Rolingson. Sloane had to wonder if the rest of the staff were all short like these two men, and how he would fair up if he was faced with thieves or vandals. He didn’t look like he could defend himself, nor did he look like he could run very fast.

“Ah, Alfred there you are.” He turned to Ula. “Would you show Alfred the photo you have. Alfred is this a picture of Joseph?”

Alfred looked at the photo on her phone she held out to him.

“Oh, Aye tis Joey, but have no seen him fer some time. One day he nay turned up fer his shifts, and no one kens what happened to him. Guess he musta gone off. Always said he wanted to travel.”

With that Sloane and Conall were striding forward. Conall went to say something but Ula put a hand to his arm giving him a warning look.

“What can you tell us about him.” She was trying to keep her voice steady. After two months of searching for Morgan this was the first positive lead they had.

The curator added. “They are looking for their niece and it would seem Joseph may have been the last one to see her.”

Ula put the phone in her jean pocket. “Was there some place that he particularly wanted to visit, anything at all would be a help.”

Alfred shook his head. “I dinna think so, he was a bit of a dreamer, always talking about travelling the world an such.” Alfred looked up and tapped his chin.”

“Please anything you can think of.” She stepped towards him.

“Well he did have a wish to go to Venice and Rome.”

Conall gasped a breath and Ula turned to him to make sure he said nothing. She needed to handle this turning back to Alfred giving him a pleading look hoping for something more.

“Ye ken Joey was a bit of an artist.” Alfred shook his head again. “I didna think much of his sketches like. Thought they a bit childlike. Tis why he was so excited, setting up fer da Vinci exhibition. Thought himself as good. He kens though more about da Vinci than anyone I ken, a bit obsessed he was.” Alfred shook his head laughing more to himself.

Ula turned to see Conall and Sloane looking at each other, eyes wide then down to the magazine Conall still clutched in his hands.

“I was right, tis Morgan.” He said in a whisper to the confused face of Rolingson and Alfred who had heard his remark.

This was just too much of a coincidence. Ula had been sure that the photo was not Morgan but now, it would seem she was wrong, and happy to be so. Joseph had been a security officer before he lost his breath and body to a dirty Brollachan, he could have sent Morgan to Leonardo da Vinci.

Just then a well-dressed woman came in the room, not bothering to knock. She wore a pink suit that Ula thought perhaps was a little tight for her full figure. Yep, overfed barbie doll, this one Ula muttered to herself. A mass of blonde curls atop her head, she wore a pair of stilettos that had heels so thin they could be used as deadly weapons.

“Oh, there you are Rolingson.” She said in a gratingly high London accent, before realizing there were other people in the room. She turned around to look at each of them, not sparing Sloane or Ula a second glance. When her eyes landed on Conall she shimmied over to him sashaying her hips.

“Well hello, I am Sonia Winston.” She held her hand out to him.

Conall raised an indignant eyebrow simply looking at her hand then at her face, ignoring her wish to shake hands. The overdressed barbie doll dropped her hand taking a step closer to him.

“My you are a handsome one aren’t you, so tall. Cooing in an attempt of a sexy purr. And your name would be?”

Conall along with Sloane and Ula were taken back by her boldness. Sloane folded his arms in front of him a smile on his face that said this should be interesting, to the annoyed one on Ula’s.

“His name is Conall, now if you wouldn’t mind being quiet, we are trying to get some answers here.” Ula snapped noticing the woman wave a hand in the air at her as if she was a servant, intensifying Ula’s ire before turning back to Alfred. “Alfred is there anything else you can…”

She was rudely interrupted by the woman’s jarring voice over talking her to address Conall again.

“Conall is it? Well Conall how about you take me to dinner.” She placed her hand on his arm. “My goodness you have muscles the size of mountains.”

Ula shunted her lips together; her anger had just about reached its limits with the audacity of this stupid woman. Sloane was amused by the antics unfolding in front of him, and Conall was downright shocked, his eyes wide and his lips turned down at the corners. He furrowed his brow snapping back his arm from the woman’s grasping hand.

“I will be no taking ye out to dinner, I’m ere looking fer my wife, and I thank ye to keep ye hands to yerself.”

Sloane caught a slight smile on Alfred’s face as he bent and coughed into his hand. Rolingson’s startled face had gone a bright red.

To everyone’s surprise the woman took a step closer leaning towards him to whisper. Ula growled. This vixen was relentless. “You know I’m very rich and can buy you anything you want, I’m sure the little woman would not mind me stealing her husband for, let us say…a soiree at my home. I’ll make it worth your time.”

“Enough!” Ula shouted, having had enough of this woman’s antics, her anger had reached its limits. Marching up to her, Ula grabbed her by the head of blonde curls and dragged her backwards to the door. The woman’s heels skittering, trying to find traction as she was pulled backwards, flaying her arms and screaming.

The curators face still red as he sputtered. “Really madam there is no need to be violent.”

Sloane guffawed. “Ye have no idea how violent my wife can be.” Conall kept a staunch face, having to bite his tongue to hold back his laughter as his sister-in-laws loss of control, like a pot of stew on overboil.

Ula shot her husband a sneer, she didn’t think these men would want to hear that, but this woman she had gripped by the hair was not staying in this room for one more minute.

Ula snorted to herself if Morgan had been here, she would have had the woman in a head lock, with a few punches to her heavily make upped face, for touching her husband.

Rolingson took a step towards Ula dragging the woman to the door. “Ms Winston is on the board of this art gallery…please madam release her.”

“I don’t give a fuck who she is.” Ula growled through gritted teeth.

After looking for Morgan for over two months and all the trips Conall and Sloane had made to past centuries they were now closer to finding her than they had ever been. She had made the decision that this woman’s interference would not delay them for one single second longer.

Ula opened the door with one hand and pushed the blonde woman out into the hallway with the other, shutting the door and barricading herself behind it to Sloane’s roar of laughter.

She turned calmly to Alfred. “Now as I was asking do you remember anything else?”

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