Blood Song (Chapter 4, page 2 of 13)

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Chapter 4

Every now and then the humming of the plane's engines would remind me of where I was, and then I'd remember where I was going and why, and I'd think of my little brother and Angus and Oliver and Fergus and I'd start to fret again, and imagine the worst possible scenarios. Catastrophising, it's apparently called.

Eventually the pilot announced that we were about to descend and land in Pulkovo International Airport. I had never been out of the UK, never mind to a place like St Petersburg, and under normal circumstances I would probably have been thrilled by the whole experience. As it was I closed the box on my lap, and leaned back in the seat and waited for the plane to land in a foreign country, thousands of miles from the conflict that gripped my family.

I waited numbly while a border guard type person scrutinised my passport, and stamped his approval to my entering his country. I hefted my bag onto my shoulder and walked through into the belly of the airport.

Marcus and Julia were waiting for me in the arrivals area. Marcus grinned his greeting, and Julia smiled, and suddenly I felt inexplicably better. They didn't seem at all worried about the outcome of the situation that was unfolding back in the UK. And their lack of concern was both reassuring and contagious. They knew Angus and Oliver, and they knew that the outcome would be in their favour, and for a while that was enough for me.

I told them as much of it all as I knew on the trip to the Byrne property, which turned out to be about a hundred miles north of the airport, and really close to the Finnish border. Marcus asked loads of questions, and I answered them as best I could. Julia asked about the box in my hands, and I explained how we had obtained our ill-gotten gains, and what it contained. She seemed delighted, and immediately offered to help me categorise them.

"I love looking at old photos," she told me excitedly. "I lived through those times, and old photos are so evocative. They bring back so many memories."

"Absolutely," I told her once I'd got over the idea that she could count her age in centuries. "I could really use the help. I know nothing about the way people used to dress in those days, so I'm really struggling to figure out exactly how old some of those pictures are. Plus I've only got through about half of them."

She nodded, and seemed satisfied with my response. I was quite pleased that she had offered her help. It was a long shot, but she might recognise some of the faces in the photographs. And if they didn't ring any bells for her, then at least she'd be able to give me an idea of how old the photos were. It was something to do while we waited for Angus and Oliver and Fergus to save my brother.

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