A friend has just posted a response to one of the ideas in the last chapter, Routine Security Checks.
Marcus L. Rowland
"I must admit to being slightly curious," Giles said over dessert. "Most people wouldn't notice that I was being followed. You spotted it, recognized the man, and found the right person to tell about it in... um... five hours or so."
"I'm surprised that you're surprised," said Modesty, "Don't you have a dossier on me?"
"Why would I..? No, although I will admit to asking a few questions. Official information about you seems to be very difficult to find. Gossip describes you as an adventurer and former criminal, but that would apply to quite a few of the people I know. Myself included."
"You're very frank. Actually, I did think you recognized my name when we met."
"It was more that you reminded me of someone. Would you mind if I asked an odd question?"
"Ask away," said Modesty, "but I don't guarantee to answer."
"Are you by any chance related to the Kalderash gypsy tribe of Romania?"
Modesty blinked with surprise, and said "I'm afraid that's a question I can't answer. I'm an orphan, a refugee, all that I really know is that I was born somewhare in the Balkans. I don't know anything about my parents. Why do you ask?"
"Some years ago I knew a woman whose family came from that tribe, you look a lot like her." There was a look of pain in his eyes, and she guessed that he was referring to the woman Dawn had mentioned. He pulled out his wallet and handed her a creased photograph. It showed a younger version of Giles and a dark-haired woman, standing in front of a huge truck painted with the Confederate flag. If she ignored the cosmetics and hair and concentrated on the shape of her nose, cheeks, eyes, chin and lips, there was a striking similarity to her own face. She turned it over idly and read "Jenny and monster trucks, Sunnydale November 1997"
"I see what you mean. I'm surprised Dawn didn't mention it."
"I doubt that she remembers her well enough to notice the resemblance. They never really met."
"Well, I suppose that it's possible that we're distantly related. Why do you want her family?"
"I've some belongings that should be returned to relatives, but I've had no luck finding them. Most of them were killed, of course..."
"Why of course?"
Giles gave her an appraising look then said "The story has it that they cursed a vampire to a life of eternal remorse, and were hunted down and killed by his followers."
"What really happened?" asked Modesty. "Some sort of feud?"
"Something like that," said Giles. "A girl was murdered, followed by curses and oaths and protracted revenge. Most of the tribe were killed in a matter of weeks, the survivors eventually went to ground or dispersed amongst other gypsy tribes, of those many were killed by the Nazis. Jenny and her uncle were the last members of the tribe I've been able to trace, and both of them are dead."
"Should I feel threatened?"
"No. Their killer died some time ago. As far as I know the feud died with him."
"I wonder if there's any way to find out if I am related," said Modesty, wondering if this was the prelude to some sort of con and deciding to sound him out. "I'd like to know more about my family."
"Genetic fingerprinting, I suppose," said Giles, absently pushing a small piece of tiramasu around with his fork. "if we could find someone to compare you to. Unfortunately I don't have a lock of hair, or anything of that sort, so it would be difficult. It's possible that the Museum could help."
"Oh, the British Museum, I used to be a curator and still have some contacts there."
"How could they help?"
"The Museum has quite a lot of material on ethnology and anthropology, there may be something there that would be useful. While the early ethnologists mostly went in for skull measurements and hopeless racist nonsense about evolved and degenerate features, Aryans and so forth, a few did think to collect samples such as hair. If so it ought to have been kept, the Museum doesn't throw much away."
"Would finding out be expensive?"
"I very much doubt that money would come into it. I might have to do them a favour at some point, perhaps, but that's unlikely to be a problem."
"Would it be worthwhile making enquiries in Romania? For members of the tribe, or the sort of samples that would identify me?"
"I've already looked for the tribe, without success. Of course, if you have contacts of your own there..."
"A few. I'm not sure that any of them could help, but I'll ask. How is the name spelled, exactly?" She took a notebook from her bag and took down the details.
"Jenny's real name was Janna Kalderash, with a 'K'. Her uncle was..." he hesitated for a moment, then snapped his fingers and said "Enyos. Enyos Kalderash."
"Thank you. I'll try my contacts."
"And I'll see if the Museum has links to any Romanian museum that could help."
"It's a lot of trouble for you to go to."
"I'd like to finish settling her affairs, one way or another." There was a pause as a waiter brought coffee.
"I have to ask," said Modesty. "Could you find anything from the bodies of the people you mentioned? Your friend and her uncle?"
"A few years ago perhaps, but the cemetery was lost when Sunnydale was destroyed."
"Sunnydale... oh, the earthquake. I hadn't realised."
"I was working there when I met Jenny, and unfortunately that's where she died. Her uncle was also buried there."
"Oh. I'm sorry..."
"Dawn and her sister are in the same boat," said Giles, "their mother's grave was lost, and several friends. It could be worse, I suppose. At least they remember their mother. I gather you don't?"
"No. I don't remember much of my early life, which is why this interests me."
"I just hope that if we find the answers you'll like them," said Giles. "I've made the mistake of digging too deeply on numerous occasions. Sometimes ignorance really is bliss."
"That sounded like a warning," said Modesty.
"Not really, but the Kalderash tribe were a proud vengeful people. It made them some powerful enemies and got most of them killed. While I hope that's all over, I'd hate you to find out otherwise the hard way."
"I see what you mean, but I'm not that easy to kill."
"Not with a sword, at least." There was a soft beep, and Giles pulled out a mobile phone and said. "I'm afraid that this may be duty calling. Do you mind?"
"Giles.... How many? Where?" Suddenly his attention was entirely on the phone. He listened for a moment more, then said "Get someone round to pick me up, I'm at the Trattoria Napoli, Dawn knows the address. Fifteen minutes?" He listened a moment more then hit the disconnect button and said "I'm sorry, there's a small emergency. Dawn's coming to pick me up."
"How can I reach you?" asked Modesty.
"One of these numbers should work." He pulled out his wallet and gave her a business card, "Rupert Giles" with an address in Bath and telephone numbers in Bath and London. She gave him her own card as he said "Waiter? The bill please." Giles quickly read it, gave the waiter the money with a generous tip, and said "I'm sorry to cut this short, but it could be quite important."
"I quite understand."
She finished her coffee and went outside with him, and they chatted while he waited. "By the way," said Modesty, "I still have no idea what it is you do."
"Well," said Giles, smiling for a moment. "it's a little difficult to explain." A battered Volkswagen mini-bus skidded to the kerb, and Dawn leaned out and impatiently said "Come on, Giles!" Modesty could see three other women inside, one of them driving, all of them roughly Dawn's age or a little older.
"My chariot awaits," said Giles. He slid open the door and climbed in, saying "I'll give you a call if I learn anything."
The door slid closed and the mini-bus screeched off into traffic, narrowly missing a taxi, and disappeared from view.
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