Coming back to Paris always fills me with feelings of excitement and fear, the excitement of my adventures with Nico. But also the fear of shadowy assassins and secret societies. Upon leaving the Airport I arrive at Nico's apartment, her smile eases my mind and I forget about everything. Except of course for barking I hear coming from behind her, I look past Nico to see a familiar creature staring back at me.
It was Twenty, the guard dog from the Marseilles docks! After the incident at the docks, Nico felt sorry for him and took him in. Surprisingly he makes a good pet and has been rather docile, though he isn't a fan of me. not surprising considering I dumped him in the water. After talking of what we've both been up to since our last meeting, Nico remembers a letter arrived 2 days ago addressed to me.
I examine the letter, noticing a spanish postmark and handwriting that's hard to read.
I find a letter enclosed, it's from Lopez!! The Gardener for the Countess de Vasconcellos, I read it with concern:
It's with great sadness that I write this to you, but I must tell you that the Countess has passed in her sleep. She left instructions in her will that I should contact you at this address, as she has bequeathed something to you. I'll be here at the Villa de Vasconcellos for a while, looking after the grounds should you wish to visit.
Sincerely, Senor Lopez.
After reading the letter, I fall back onto my chair in shock of the Countess' death. Nico also reads the letter and consoles me.
I decide to go back to Spain, Nico says she can't join me though as she's working on a story and has to look after the dog.
The next morning i'm once again leaving Paris, heading for another place that holds good memories. After several hours of travel both in the air and by taxi, I arrive at the Villa and find Lopez just as I remember him. Watering the grounds in his usual manner, he spots me walking through the archway and turns off the hose. He greets me with a smile, but I see the sadness in his face. I ask how he is and what he pans to do now. Apparently the Villa is to be a historic landmark and Lopez kept on in his position to look after the place. He leads me up to the Countess' room, the sight of which fills me with nostalgia. There's an envelope on the table that Lopez picks up and hands to me, I open it and see that it's a letter from the Countess.
"Dear Mr. Stobbart.
If you are reading this, then I have passed on before I could make the arrangements personally. As a thank you for your deeds to me and my great ancestors, I leave you with an heirloom you know quite well. Having no children of my own, I ask that you treasure this and pass it on to your own children one day. But first though, you must find it. I have arranged that it be hidden somewhere for safe keeping.You can find it by following the note I've enclosed.
Once more thank you for all you've done."
The letter is signed by The Countess and stamped with the Vasconcellos crest. I look in the envelope and see a note, it says "Look to where the game was played" Lopez looks at me curiously, I hand him the letter and then think of the note. "Where the game is played..." I look around the room and notice the chair the Countess was sitting on when I first met her.
But next to it was a small table..... with nothing on it, wait a minute. The chess set was on there! I bend down and feel around the table, finding another envelope stuck underneath.
Another note is enclosed saying "Where the Ancestors rest". I also find a key enclosed, studying the old metal key, Lopez comes over and says:
"That's the key to the Mausoleum!"
We head outside and go over to the mausoleum, I try the key and eventually unlock the door. I look around, the place is just as I remembered it. Still very clean and well looked after. But then I notice something, the glass checkerboard has many chess pieces in it but all in the wrong places. After a few minutes I manage to place the pieces correctly and the secret compartment opens. Lopez goes over and takes out a box, he places it on the altar and we both stand over it. I finally open it to reveal a note stating:
"Mr. Stobbart I ask you to look after this heirloom, my Legacy to you. My Chess Set, the Legacy de Vasconcellos"
Lopez smiles, and thanks me for all I did for the Countess. He says:
"After the events of your visits, she had a new lease for life and felt at ease about her ancestors. And so it is fitting that you receive her most precious possession, look after it Mr. Stobbart"
I open the set and remove the pieces from the Checkerboard, then ask:
"Fancy a game Lopez?"