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Volume 6450

 Copyright © 1997, 2018 Dorothy J. Howell
   All rights reserved
  In memory of Phyllis
Dateline: Meridum 1
ERBzine 6450

I. Chimur (Location Unknown)
II.   Terra (Great Briten of Inland)
III. Chimur (Battersea, Tuatha)
ERBzine 6451

IV. Chimur (Rune Pellucid; Battersea)
V. Chimur (Battersea); Ashtar (Sanaca Lands; Unspecified Coastal Settlement)
VI. Ashtar (Jungle Location, Classified)
ERBzine 6452

VII. Ashtar (Jungle Location, Classified)
VIII. Mithos
IX. Vanished
ERBzine 6453

X. Stephanos
XI. At Court
XII. Captives
ERBzine 6454

XIII. Arena
XIV. King’s Ward
XV. Estrangement
ERBzine 6455

XVI. Misunderstandings
XVII. Departure
XVIII. Ambush
ERBzine 6456

XIX. Silence 177
XX. Defeat  181
Epilogue 186
ERBzine 6457
DATELINE: MERIDUM.  310 Reina 30.  It was revealed today that twelve-year-old Leede Blane Southerly, heir-apparent to the venerable Charwick title, disappeared last month following a holiday in Meridum with his parents, Sir Leede and Lady Amber Southerly of Charwick.  Although Rune Pellucid declines comment on its investigation of the case, the youth is believed to have been kidnaped.

Sir Leede and Lady Amber remain in seclusion at their Meridum townhouse.

Reports reveal that there were no signs of a struggle, but little hope is held for finding the youth, as he disappeared without a trace.  Sources at Rune Pellucid say that Lord Charwick himself has attempted to participate in the investigation.

Sources close to the family say no ransom demand has yet been received.  Those sources decline to comment on the possible identity of the perpetrator or perpetrators.
The Charwick fortune is rumoured to be immense.  The well known penchant for privacy of the present Lord Charwick has long defeated all efforts to substantiate these and other rumours associated with this unconventional peer.

Leede, Lord Charwick, has only infrequently been in Meridum.  His late parents, Sir Leede and Lady Sabratha, née Hyland, disappeared in the year 267 and apparently died on Ashtar under mysterious circumstances.  The former is believed to have been on a diplomatic mission at the time of his disappearance.  The present Lord Charwick was discovered on the Primaeval Planet and returned to Tuatha through the offices of then-Lieutenant Guy Locke of the Gemini Galactic Force (Diyalan Command).  Before claiming the title Sir Leede resided briefly in Faxon.  Reports indicate he became involved in Diyalan special services apparently under the name of Lee S. Jerrock.

Captain Locke is a popular figure in Meridum society and remains close to the reclusive Charwick family.  Lady Charwick is an Armerian by birth.

The Southerlys maintain homes in Meridum, on Tuatha’s Battersea coast and on Ashtar.  They had planned to return to their Ashtarian plantation while Blane, as the missing youth is known, attends school, according to our sources.

THE CRUMPLED NEWSPAPER and its chatty but singularly uninformative news item lay forgotten in the library of the Charwick townhouse.  The house itself was closed and absolutely deserted.

After receiving the tragic news from Blane’s headmaster, it was Sir Leede who notified Rune Pellucid of the disappearance before finding a private moment in which he could advise his lady-wife of their sudden loss.  Together they traveled to the present location of the first-class carriage in which they thought they had safely left their son.  When the couple later returned to Meridum Sir Leede’s impassive face was marred by the scarlet slash of an old scar that streaked from eye into hairline.  Lady Amber’s face was ashen but otherwise composed.  She gripped her husband’s arm for much needed support.  There had been and would be no hysterical outburst from this courageous woman.

Upon the nearly simultaneous arrival of Guy Locke from Faxon, Leede Southerly escorted his distraught wife to the remote Charwick Manor near the rugged Rexon coast.  There he expected to find some respite from the constant hounding of reporters and of well intentioned acquaintances.  The presence of Locke, the closest of their small circle of friends, was welcome comfort to both grieving parents.

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