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Chapter 23

Since the Interpol's building in France was in Lyon, Ruben decided to use Paris as his headquarter; the whole city. He had officers placed in every crowded spot, in buildings that had a wide view over the streets below.

One of the buildings was near the Gardens of Luxembourg and it was the smallest place, where only the officers chosen by Ruben were working but that didn't mean it was any quieter. The office had limited space for how many desks they needed yet somehow they managed. The officers were working thoroughly, researching everything that happened ever since the explosion in London.

"Ah! It's so annoying, nothing out of the ordinary happened beforehand," The Finnish officer mumbled as he stretched loudly.

"Concentrate first on your own country and then move to its neighbors. No matter how careful they are, they must have made a mistake in the beginning." Duval responded in her usual authoritarian tone, her eyes never leaving her laptop.

"You aren't second in command for nothing, hm, Duval," Blanchard joked but nobody laughed.

Lanchester could hear them bicker, could envision their fingers typing relentlessly on the keyboard, the click of every mouse growing more alert as they were losing their patience and yet the ginger didn't even have his laptop turned on. He was sitting at his little desk with his feet spread as if he was back in the Scotland Yard, playing with a mini stapler. He didn't seem to be in the room mentally because his eyes were unfocused. Every time he pressed on the stapler, it felt like he was getting further away from the noise in the office. Once, twice, third times in a row in a constant rhythm and the clicking and typing changed into murmurs and whispers echoing in a dim lit empty hallway. He shouldn't have gone to Bedlam with Ava. It only reminded him that although he tried so hard to forget and move on, the past could easily catch up to him and mess his life.

The vibration near his hand dragged him back to the present. It was so abrupt that it made him flinch but he was incredibly thankful to whoever interfered by chance.

"Yes?" He asked not even checking the caller ID.

At first he only heard someone's heavy breathing before the caller decided to speak.

"Can you meet me in Oslo?"

Lanchester needed a short moment to figure out that the female voice was Ava's. It was hard not to recognize it because it was always mellow and quiet. In a way, it fit her looks and career.

"Why Oslo?"

"I have tickets to a play," she started to which Marvin was ready to comment but she interrupted, "Given by Anonymous."

"Should I keep this information to myself?" He asked checking if the others were eavesdropping in his conversation. They probably were but it was hard to see over their screens.

"They know you, they called you 'the amusing detective'. It's better if it's just us, going as curious theater fans." She replied, "Anyway, I'll meet you in front of the National Theater on Friday at 7:13 in the afternoon." She informed him and hung up.

"I found something!" That short sentence and the enthusiasm behind it was enough to gather the attention of everyone in the room. "Remember how the first explosion was in London even if the letter was not on the same subject as the others? Well, the Scotland Yard was not very chatty about it when the Interpol called," Helena stopped and they all glanced at Lanchester as if it was his fault, "Anyway, a week before the explosion there was a power outage at the Parliament, which it seems does not happen often."

"What day was it again?"

"May 5th." Helena Banes read out loud.

"The mayor of London was elected on that day." Marvin mumbled thoughtfully. "He was giving his speech when the connection was cut. I never thought that could mean something."

"Well, apparently, a week before that there was another power outage in Limehouse. What's odd is that when they checked, nothing was wrong. It was just as if somebody turned the switch on and off, careful not to disrupt the other districts. At least that's what some comments say," Banes continued, scrolling through what looked like a different article.

"Why only Limehouse? Do you think it was something of a test?" Blanchard asked leaning against Helena's desk. "Isn't it a bit too simple for Anonymous?"

For some reason, Lanchester knew that the answer was right there, in front of them but none knew what exactly to search for. However, once returned to his desk, the ginger detective turned on his laptop and went straight to the interrupted speech. There was a picture of the mayor of London and three other people behind him, probably some of his supporters. Their names were written underneath and there was one imposing man whose name made Lanchester scoff.

"What parents name their son Iago?" He mumbled to himself staring at the brown haired business man.

Ever since she got kidnapped so close to home, Ava stopped driving to work and decided to take the bus and subway. Crowded place were harder to kidnap somebody from even if maybe not impossible. It was suffocating and smelly and Ava caught sight of people staring at her or her phone several times. It was uncomfortable but it was also safer so she decided to suck it up.

It was Thursday and every time she took a glance at the calendar on her phone she wondered if Lanchester was actually going to show up. He was part of the Interpol now and he was busy searching for Anonymous. At the same time, he was unpredictable and easy to lose in emergencies. She hoped she won't have to enter a foreign theater and listen to a German play all by herself.

Now that she was thinking about it, she never read Egmont before. She enjoyed literature, it was the one thing that made her feel like she wasn't the only one having conflicted opinions about life and death. Literature and music were what helped her move on from her trauma and forget aspects of her past that were too painful. It was so much work and so much lying to herself that she was alright and now that she could finally believe it, Anonymous were forcing her to remember.

After a long day of explaining to young and reckless adults the importance of Raphaelites in connection to literature, Iwan was ready for a long joint that could help him relax and preferably sleep. He has been having nightmares every night and as a professor he couldn't look more untrustworthy than he already did.

However, when he placed his notes on the desk in his office he found a red envelope that looked too fancy for him. He opened it slowly after he checked twice that it was sent to the right address. He raised an eyebrow when he saw inside a ticket to a play he had seen before but never in a northern country.

Instinctively, he grabbed his phone and called the person that brought trouble into his life.

"I got a ticket for Egmont in Oslo. What's the meaning of this?"

She didn't answer but he heard her sigh. Iwan walked to his made up bed and fell on it head first.

"I'm sorry," he heard her reply before he hung up.

"Egmont...isn't that a tragedy?" He mumbled to himself.

Friday was eventful for a number of reasons. Ava was flying from London, Marvin was flying from Paris and Iwan from Florence. Three people whose lives got entangled by the same organization and they all felt that something bad was about to happen when they will meet.

"Are you alright, sir?" Duval asked her colleague and friend. He was deep in thought and he was always turning towards Lanchester's empty desk. "Should I not have left detective Lanchester leave today?"

"What did he say was his emergency?"

"He didn't. He only said that it could greatly help the case. There were no details to where he was going, with whom and why." Duval replied.

Ruben sighed and leaned his head back. He didn't want to do it, he hated tracking his staff when their relationship was supposed to be based on trust. But Lanchester had the annoying habit of disappearing to places that were more or less connected to the case and not telling him. With another heavy sigh, he grabbed his phone and searched for Lanchester's location.

"I have a bad feeling about this..." He mumbled seeing how the ginger was in Oslo.

The first to arrive at the National Theater in Oslo was Lanchester. He took a taxi straight from the airport and didn't have to wait for his luggage since he was there for one night only. It was a new experience since he had never traveled to Norway before. The city was beautiful and people were minding their own business. They didn't seem to be worried for their lives which was exactly what Lanchester preferred: ignorance could be a bliss when it saved lives.

Checking the hour, the ginger detective decided to wait for Ava nearby, some place that wouldn't kick him out if he occupied a table for almost four hours. He found a rustic little place just around the corner and he was happy to enjoy a bit of silence.

As he watched people walk by, he noticed a man in a hoody who had a banner written in norwegian. Lanchester copied in his phone and translated it via the quickest translator he found. It said The horror! The horror!

"What the-"

Confused and with no expert to ask, Lanchester googled it. He was surprised to find that those two exclamations were the last words of commander Kurtz from Joseph Conrad's The Heart of Darkness. That didn't explain anything, though.

Four hours passed incredibly slowly but the guy in the hoody was still there, not doing anything but just standing on the ground with the banner in his hands. Since there was nothing else to do, the detective paid for his drinks and food and walked to the man, his curiosity getting the best of him.

"What does that mean?" He asked in English.

The man looked up at Lanchester but didn't speak. They stared at each other, time in which Lanchester realized that he might have not been understood because of the language barrier.

"Don't worry, Mr Lanchester. Enjoy the show and watch the children for us." He finally spoke when the detective walked away.

"What children?" He asked but the hoody man got up and smiled at him before he left. "Huh,"

"What's wrong detective?"

Lanchester turned to see not one mellow individual but two.

"What's he doing here?" He asked Ava who seemed to have actually dressed elegantly for the ocasion.

"He was invited too." Iwan answered for himself. "Shall we?"

Seeing Ava and Iwan go into the theater, Lanchester couldn't help but think that the hoody man was reffering to them. They were younger than him and they both suffered in their youth. But if that was the case, then Anonymous clearly knew every detail about Dr Atkins, Lauren and the professor.

Inside the theater they noticed there were very few people waiting for their play to begin. Ava turned to one of the staff members and smiled politely.

"Excuse me but we are here for a play called Egmont." She said and handed him her ticket.

The man looked up at her in surprise before he glanced at the sickly looking Iwan and completely awestruck Lanchester. They were an interesting group that did not look like they were in the right place. But they did have tickets so he was in no place to judge them.

"Of course, please follow me." He said and led them down the corridor.

"Why are there so few people?" Lanchester asked, his voice booming in the silence.

"It is an event organized by the British Embassy here in Oslo. There are only a handful of invites that were given to the ambassador and his secretary."

"And we have three. Isn't that curious?" Iwan whispered to his friend sarcastically.

"Ah, here it is. Do enjoy the play," the man said with a smile and left swiftly.

They entered under the eyes of people they had never met before. It was awkward and their dressing code, they noticed, was not even half as spectacular as it should have been. There were ladies in long dresses with shiny diamonds complementing their features; most men were in tuxedos that made Iwan's loose suit look like a cheap copy. Lanchester couldn't care less, he searched for his seat and didn't even bother fitting in.

"They don't matter, don't be so self-aware. Just concentrate on the reason we are here." The detective advised Ava.

"We are here because of me." Ava answered checking her attire and posture. "They kidnapped me earlier this week and-"

"What?!" The detective's loud voice attracted the frowns of a few ladies and men but he didn't notice.

"Yes, detective. Why not have this discussion up on stage for the whole room to hear?" Iwan asked with a roll of his eyes.

"Lauren was right. I don't think I started this operation of waking the world from its numbness but I do have a role in this plot. I think I'll understand better once I watch the play. He also called me Charlotte, which surprised me."

"Is there a Charlotte in the Divine Comedy?" Lanchester asked, still not interested enough to have read it.

"No, but there is one in The Sorrows of Young Werther." Iwan explained.

Ava's eyes widened, the dots in her mind clicking into half of a finished puzzle.

"How do you know that?" Asked the detective, always amazed by how much the arts professor knew about something that was not in his line of work.

"Because Goethe wrote it. He is the author of Egmont as well. It makes sense."

Ava looked down at her trembling hands and closed her eyes. She breathed in and out several times to calm her beating heart before she heard the first gong.

"Are you alright?" Iwan leaned in and asked seeing the way she was rubbing her knees nervously.

The second gong rung loudly and people around them became dead silent.

"It probably means nothing. From what I know, Egmont is about sacrificing for something you believe in and freedom. We both know Anonymous have already established themselves and martyres." He added placing one hand over hers.

The third gong covered whatever else he said and then music begun. Her eyes opened wide. It was the same music she heard when she was kidnapped.

"Beethoven's Egmont Ouverture," Iwan whispered close to her ear. "It's actually a nice piece. The best introduction to a tragedy."

Ava certainly hoped that was not the case for her. She did not want to die for a cause that she was not part of nor did she want someone else to suffer because of her.

It was probably in the middle of the third act that Iwan glanced at Ava and saw her crying. He grabbed her hand and squeezed it lightly but she only sighed. On her other side, detective Marvin Lanchester was mesmerized. He couldn't take his eyes off the actors and the in between music was elevating their performance. And the subject, the character of Egmont and his way of living life as a man true to his beliefs, the way Clara sacrifices for love and the cruelty of the Duke of Alva...they all made so much sense.

"This isn't just a play." He whispered to himself.

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