THE WINCHESTER-NABU DETECTIVE AGENCY
AMBER LOVE 18-SEP-2017 My work is supported by the generous backers who tolerate my cat stories at Patreon.com/amberunmasked and they also get first access to what’s happening with my books and podcast. Also, buy my books with these handy links below:
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ADVENTURES WITH GUS – CHAPTER NINETEEN: ROMANCING THE STONE
- Chapter One – The Great Hunt
- Chapter Two – The Great Escape
- Chapter Three – The DaVinci Plan
- Chapter Four – On the Wild Side
- Chapter Five – The Leash I Could Do
- Chapter Seven – The Two Snakes
- Chapter Eight – Heat Wave
- Chapter Nine – The Sleepless Detective
- Chapter Ten – Baby Beasts
- Chapter Eleven – The Blue Dahlia
- Chapter Twelve – Stray Cat Strut
- Chapter Thirteen – The Strange Case of DI Nabu and Mr. Hyde
- Chapter Fourteen – Gus and the Grumpy Old Man
- Chapter Fifteen – The Night of the Hunter
- Chapter Sixteen – On Dangerous Ground
- Chapter Seventeen – Escape in the Fog
- Chapter Eighteen – World of Witcherscape
Where we left off…
Detective Inspector Guster Nabu and his primary human caregiver, Amber Love, discovered two amazing artifacts on their last exploration. The previous chapter took a close look at possible theories for the first artifact. Professor Oliver Winchester has been called in to advise on the second artifact.
INTERIOR. THE WINCHESTER-NABU ESTATE. THE LIBRARY.
It was another soggy morning, but in no time, the sun was blazing in western New Jersey. Detective Inspector Guster Nabu managed to check the perimeter of the estate, but something alarmed him. He bolted towards the back door and called it quits for outdoor exploration (until later that afternoon).
Inside Professor Oliver Winchester helped himself to the second breakfast Gus didn’t eat. We had a shorter coffee break than usual. Oliver was keen about getting to work on the second mysterious artifact that Gus and I discovered.
Previously, we found unidentified remains in the middle of The Boulevard. I have carried the guilt of not investigating that case. The bones were in two pieces. The only part I could make out was the ball socket joint; I assumed it was from a pelvis to femur attachment. Gus showed no interest in it, so we left it where it was.
After a while, the bones disappeared, probably ground up by the landscaping machines. Because of the sense of failure I felt regarding that case, I didn’t want to let another clue go unnoticed ever again. That’s why Professor Oliver Winchester was called in for this latest mystery. His expertise is not only in meditation and the body-mind connection for martial arts, he’s adept at research and has his own strengths for sniffing out intruders.
Oliver examined the stone specimen carefully. At first glance it appeared to be a massive chunk of ordinary silicon dioxide (SiO2), common quartz mineral. He spent time inspecting every side, every vein. I was ordered to hit the private occult library and put my internet skills to use. There had to be something more to this hunk of quartz that Oliver wasn’t ready to tell me without confirmation.
As mentioned in the previous chapters, The Winchester-Nabu Detective Agency comes from a superb lineage of Prussia. Though certain generations had fallen on hard times, in their souls, this family-run operation thinks of itself as nobility. It was my duty to Oliver to dig through some old boxes hoping to find more information on the jewels and treasures that were brought over from Europe. Our family wasn’t the only one determined to smuggle things before the Nazis laid claim to them.
This crystal artifact measures five inches at its widest points. It’s primarily opaque white with dark grey and yellow-gold veins. As I stared at the veins, it jolted my memory of the Romanov’s famous amber chamber which was a gift from Frederick William I of Prussia. Peter I, the first emperor of Russia, was notable for his collection of curiosities. He was an eighteenth century weirdo with a big ol’ freak flag.
I knew I had read about him in a book which was somewhere in the attic. The cats aren’t allowed up there so I went up by myself. Fortunately this was not a day above ninety degrees.
My recollection of the amber chamber was that it was moved by Catherine the Great to her summer residence. When the Nazi pillaging began, the amber chamber was dismantled and hidden in the castle basements of Königsberg Castle because Hitler believed it was the rightful property of Germany. Yet, when the Soviet army returned to Königsberg Castle to reclaim the art once considered the eighth wonder of the world, the amber chamber had disappeared.
While the amber chamber doesn’t directly connect to our artifact, the story is similar. I flipped through the dusty pages of one of the books with a black leather cover.
Frederick William I inherited a bunch of treasures and occult oddities. He sold or gave most of it away. Like the Russian nobles, Freddie was into magic and mysticism which, rumor has it, gave him a devout belief in curses and hexes. There are even notes by Protestant Reformers about their respect for alchemy.
In his travels, Frederick went to Austria which was made famous in the jewelry industry later on in the nineteenth century by Swarovski. Daniel Swarovski was originally from Bohemia which bordered Poland. Needless to say, there was some magic passed through that line too.
There was a Bohemian merchant selling a one-of-a-kind Japanese sculpture that Freddie found intriguing. However, he had no interest in parting with his money in case he needed it to raise a larger army. This was somewhere around 1720-1730ish. A king’s gotta do what a king’s gotta do. Right?
The dust of the books made me sneeze and I fell from my squat between the joists and onto the fiberglass insulation. Half the attic floor was removed and used as flooring in the restored kitchen so it’s not the best place for research. Still, I knew I couldn’t abandon this investigation. I took the box of books down the stairs and into my office.
The legend goes on to say that the merchant woman locked eyes with Frederick in a hypnotic stare. The king felt frozen in his boots. He stared back at the wrinkled woman’s eyes, lost in their color like the Adriatic Sea.
“I’ve never seen anything like this beautiful work of art,” he said.
“Of course not. Statues of crystal are a trade of the Far East. This was a special acquisition. You won’t find anything else like it around here.” As her hand gestured to the relic, Frederick’s eyes followed.
The sculpture was an enormous vase with the relief of a woman and a fox. The merchant permitted the king to caress it and feel every bit of the smooth texture and the bumps of the embossed imagery. He asked if the idol was a goddess figure.
“In a way,” the old woman said. “She was named after the goddess Benzaiten. A man of great wealth wanted to take her as his wife. She told her parents that she didn’t want to marry him. She was in love with a farmer. Although the parents could have arranged the marriage without her consent, they apologized to the rich man and said they would not allow it. The rich man went to a sorcerer and had the young woman cursed. The next time she saw her beloved farmer, her body transformed into a fox. The farmer thought the fox was going to eat his chickens and killed it unaware it was the woman he loved.”
It was one of the saddest stories Frederick had ever heard. The merchant woman pressed her hands over his as they were on the carved stone.
“It’s said that whoever owns this piece will have the magical sight to see who is friend or who is foe.” She implied it was the type of item a king who ruled an army should have. It was unusual for Frederick to spend his money, but he had to have that quartz sculpture. Needless to say, Frederick fell for the line and dropped a considerable amount of money in Bohemia that day.
The vase stayed in his possession until 1790 when it was given as a gift to Col. Louis Philippe d’Orléans (later King Louis Philippe I of France) who had inherited quite a mess from the Napolean years. Louis Philippe was not only part of the Orléans family but also a member of the House of Bourbon. He had been in military service most of his life. Unfortunately, his friendship with Austria was part of his downfall. He left France in exile for Great Britain. He returned decades later as Louis Philippe, Duke of Orléans. Louis Philippe then stole the throne from his ten-year-old nephew in 1830.
Somehow through his exile, the sculpture was kept safely hidden. He couldn’t be in the same place for more than a few days. As always, war was right around the corner. Louis Philippe I didn’t live to see the Franco-Prussian War. Borders and domination changed constantly. Families were split apart every generation. Then came the world wars, I and II.
Louis Philippe had ten children, but outlived five of them. After his death, the remaining five decided to see if the magical powers of the sculpture would continue to work if it was broken. It was smashed and divided amongst them. It’s believed that through the descendants of the King’s daughter Princess Clémentine of Orléans, the piece found it’s way to the United States in the early 1900’s and was lost, sold, or forgotten.
As to how the broken artifact specifically landed on the hilltop behind the Winchester-Nabu estate, no one knows.
Reference: Russia Beyond
** The amber chamber is real. Gus and I did find a chunk of crystal in the woods. The rest is fiction. Though I’d be flattered, don’t cite me in your term papers. xo, Amber