PENDRAGON 4

Almost opposite the spot Davies occupied, but twenty feet below, was the main public entrance to the museum. To the right, half way between that doorway and the imposing flight of stairs that led up to the upper balcony at that end of the hall was a larger than lifesize bronze statue standing on a wooden plinth. It depicted a drummer boy, sat on a wall with a cannonball at his feet. Davies treated himself to a rare smile, he had remembered correctly. There was the sculpture by Sir William Goscombe John of the, possibly apocryphal, drummer boy, depicted in the act of encouraging his comrades at the Battle of Dettingen. It was a copy of the South African War memorial to the King’s Regiment in Liverpool. “Y Bachgen Drymiwr Dettingen” himself thought Davies. He hoped it was the right one.

He looked at his watch. Four minutes to two o’clock. He was early. He scanned the visitors milling around the entrance hall. Just to the right of the main door was a figure, half hidden in shadows of the lockers where visitors could leave bags, umbrellas and other impedimenta frowned on by museums and galleries. The lockers curved out into the hall making a blind spot ideal for lurking in. The figure was still, poised almost; waiting for something Davies was sure. Not unusual in a museum gallery, but certainly odd in the entrance hall with nothing particular to stare at apart from some lockers and a set of seats. In the shadows it was not clear where, if at all, the figure was looking. Davies detached himself from his vantage point and made his way around the upper balcony towards the head of the stairs. There were several exhibition cases along the balcony which, while not completely obstructing his view of the lower floor made Davies move away from the protective rail that ran around the edge of the upper floor and lose his sight of the lockers.

Halfway up the rise to the upper floor the staircase split, one set of steps going left to the balcony opposite Davies side and the other right. Davies reached the head of the right hand flight and made his way down. By the time he reached the conjunction of the two upper flights the figure was no longer visible. Davies fought the urge to run, he checked his watch again, two minutes to two o’clock, and descended to the ground floor.

He walked to the right, skirting the entrance to the interactive rooms where children, and adults could examine various geological and natural history exhibits in close detail and use microscopes and hear talks on items of current interest. Doing so provided him with a shield of enthusiastic young museum visitors as he approached the man’s last known location. He held back at the side of the hall, where he could see the statue and the surrounding area quite clearly. There was no-one who looked to be a likely candidate for Pendragon. Davies had met him before, but always in situations where it had been difficult to form a clear impression of the man. He took a few steps out of the shadows towards the drummer boy. He loitered looking all around for a sign of the man he was due to meet. He must have looked as lost as he felt because one of the attendants at the information and ticket desk opposite the entrance walked across to him.

‘Mr Davies?’ she asked, although it seemed clear to Davies that she was pretty certain of his identity.

‘Yes. That’s me.’ He said smiling in what he hoped was not too confused a fashion.

‘Your friend asked me to give you your ticket. He had to go ahead and speak to the artist himself, but he was sure you would understand, and he said he will see you in there.’ And with that she pressed a small sheaf of papers into his hand.

‘Oh! Thank you.’ He said looking at the ticket that was on top. It allowed one adult entrance to the preview of the exhibition of modern installation art in the ground floor gallery to the east, past the cafe. Davies flicked through papers. They were flyers for the exhibition and forthcoming attractions. Davies put them in his inside jacket pocket and walked the length of the hall.

The inside of the gallery was in darkness with a hologram water effect playing on the floor. It was like walking into unknown waters. A situation Davis thought Pendragon had not chosen by accident. There was a quiet susurration of sound playing from speakers somewhere in the darkness as Davies walked into the simulated waters. Around a bend built into the gallery the waters gave way and the lighting effect was reversed with a black floor and glittering steel kitchenware arrayed as sculpture at eye level. Disconcerting dragons and steel horsemen arose, seemingly as far as the eye could see. This room was silent but beyond some acoustic baffle walls there was the faint sound of squealing. Davies moved on.

He was in darkness and what he had thought was squealing was the metallic screeching of the tines of a thousand forks being dragged down steel sheets. Davies fought the urge to cover his ears and strained for any other sensory input. As his eyes became accustomed to the darkness, figures darker than the background blackness twitched and moved. Davies walked up to one. It was an animatronic sculpture draped in black velvet. He turned and walked to what he could now see was a faint glow of direction arrows to the next part of the exhibition when one of the animatronic figures reached out a hand and took his elbow firmly in its grip.

‘Dewch gyda fi, rwan.’ It said

‘Come with me, now.’ Davies thought. If I can move after that, I will.

Davies sat in one of the collection rooms in the bowels of the museum. He was grateful for the nip of Dick Penderyn whisky Pendragon had offered him. His nerves had been somewhat disturbed by the disorientation of the approach in the exhibition. Exactly what Pendragon had intended of course, and as Davies’ eyes adjusted once more to the bright spotlight set at an angle behind Pendragon, he realised that once again he had no clear view of the man’s features.

‘I’m sorry about the slightly melodramatic approach.’ The man in the shadows said. ‘But I find melodrama is preferable to being placed at a disadvantage. I hope you weren’t too inconvenienced.’

Davies wasn’t inclined to be understanding.

‘You took a chance I know about the Goscombe John figure didn’t you?’ he said.

‘Not really. You wanted to see me remember? And I was pretty sure I knew my man. And I did, didn’t I?

Davies had to hand him that but he didn’t want to be too magnanimous. He grunted.

‘I presumed you were as concerned as I am, otherwise you wouldn’t have agreed to meet me?’ There was a slight pause as the figure appeared to mull this over.

‘Shall we stop fencing…’ the figure hesitated, ‘Davies, is it you are calling yourself now?’

‘Yes, Davies. All right. Let’s get down to business.’ He hesitated and then, because he knew how difficult this must be for Pendragon as much as himself, he said, ‘And thank you for answering my call. I appreciate it.’

The figure laughed heartily at that.

‘You never fail to surprise me. After all these years you can still be courteous when the need arises.’

Davies smiled. He couldn’t see Pendragon’s face but he knew the man could see his.

‘I haven’t known anyone as long as I’ve known you. We may be enemies, but that time alone lends a certain feeling of… comradeship? Brawdgarwch?’

‘Oh, let’s not say enemies. Let’s say rather, we occasionally have different immediate interests.’

‘You should have been a bard.’

‘And you a druid.’

There was a silence.

‘So. Goleudigion?’ Davies threw the word out there. If Pendragon reacted in any way, even with the advantage of the light in Davies’ eyes, he would know there was a lead to be followed.

There was a chilling lack of reaction from across the room. A stillness which was reaction enough in itself.

‘What do you want to know?’ The voice, already carefully modulated, became lower and even quieter.

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