Fortified by recent performances of the play, the cabal take steps to protect their interest in The Company of Man. A concerned friend advises caution to Nicholas, Mac confides in a new follower and Jason tries to salvage his relationship while striking a new partnership. An old acquaintance returns to not be forgot.
Friday 29 September
The group start to feel the personal effect of performing the prologue of the play, which recounts the beginning of a journey of self-discovery and gives a taste of where the play may end (beyond kingship).
- The impact seems to be mostly internalised. Jason feels more at one with himself, and both Nicholas and Mac seem steeled by the power of the play.
- The group reflect that the absence of a true audience may have diminished a wider effect.
Mac calls Amy to check that her name is on the registration for the recovered hire car.
- She dismisses it as likely an arrangement made by her underling Meredith Hanson. Mac is not entirely convinced by her response.
- She presses to verify the text and they arrange to meet up later that evening.
Barriemore connects with Jason to discuss a business proposal between his hospitality firm and Miranda’s Fish Restaurant. They arrange to meet the next day.
Jason heads back to the restaurant to learn that more bookings have been cancelled.
- Miranda is upset about the theatrical antics earlier in the day, and the immediate impact it is having on the business.
- Jason suggests that the play is going to be a part of their lives one way or the other.
- Miranda is disappointed to hear this. She expresses that she feels abandoned and unsupported by Jason in looking after the restaurant, even after they both made sacrifices to move to Lower Barton with the commitment to growing the business, establishing a strong home base and starting a family.
- She demands that – in pursuit of these shared life goals – Jason chooses between the business and the drama group.
- Jason acquiesces and agrees to close ties with the drama group and focus on the business.
Nicholas finds a note left for him pinned to his office door. It is a stark warning from Jerome Warren.
- He insists that he knows that the cabal has the text, and that he “regrets two things – that he could not be so direct in front of the given company, and that circumstances have brought a friend into danger, and will continue to.”
- He urges him to come clean about The Company of Man manuscript, and “return it to me before a Library sends somebody less friendly to your interests to acquire it for their collection. I am powerless to keep you safe while you still possess the accursed text.”
- He cautions that “in the wrong hands, The Company of Man is a most dangerous treatise, the likes of which has not been seen for centuries, more so than propaganda, banned or forbidden texts.”
- He warns that “with the best will in the world, you and your friends in the amateur dramatic society are amateurs in this play. If all the world’s a stage, it is my thankless role to advise that you are not even bit players in this performance to end all shows.”
- He finishes with a cyclical reference in classical Greek connecting hubris, the collection of knowledge, and the downfall of the Library of Alexandria.
Nicholas returns home to investigate the British Library, the provenance of the play and how best to perform it.
- Plans begin to form about performance rites. There appears to be a precedent for plays being ritualistic.
- There is also a suggestion that directorial intent, quality of acting company and other performance factors can both actively influence and passively affect the interpretation of the play.
- There is no suggestion of anything unusual about the British Library.
- However, he discovers a family connection between Amy Bassano and early modern feminist poet Emilia Lanier.
- Nicholas senses that there are no other desirable collectibles within close proximity and stashes all the available pieces in his private collection safe.
Mac meets Amy at the Rampant Mare.
- She is on edge when they arrive. Mac shows her some of the photos of the text they have taken, which Amy verifies is the play she is looking for.
- Mac tells her about the robbery, assault and attempt on his life. He suggests they go for a drive to experience the other weird stuff that’s happening. They head towards the Rollright Stones.
- On the way they notice fewer cars, but more figures walking along the road, notably wearing some kind of red garment. The animals, ranging from ground animals (such as deer, badgers and rabbits) as well as birds (including owls and a swan), appear more startled and wild as they drive through the roads.
- Amy discloses that she and Meredith work BLACK Ops, the British Library Ancient Collections of Knowledge Operations, a secret part of the institution dedicated to ensuring dangerous texts don’t fall into the wrong hands.
- She reveals that Jerome Warren is suspected of stealing the play from the British Library while he was doing some authentication work, and that he probably did so for another occult Library that trades in rituals.
- Mac reveals that Jason suspects Barriemore has stolen a fragment from him. Amy is distressed, and suggests that he is intent on performing the play with potentially dire consequences. Mac agrees neither he nor other parties should be allowed to have it.
- Mac confirms that the drama society is an interested party, but are looking for the rest of the play. Amy suggests that the best course of action would be to store the pieces in the British Library’s secure vaults while they work together to recover the missing parts.
- As he considers the proposal, Mac begins to sense threats emerging across the realm. They turn back to Lower Barton before reaching the accident scene at the Rollright Stones.
Saturday 30 September
The next morning, the cabal meet up to plan an approach before the meeting with Barriemore.
- The cabal meet to compare notes and discuss an approach to take with Barriemore.
- Barriemore makes a proposal to produce the drama society’s new play in Stratford with a professional team and to a larger audience, and to bring Miranda’s into the theatre’s operation to support catering, as a test to see how well they work together.
- Jason insists that the group will need to decide about the play. Miranda is clearly upset about him prioritising the drama society over the business again. But, given the unfavourable reviews the restaurant is getting, she encourages Jason to accept the proposal, mindful of the opportunity to tap into Canonbury’s hospitality network and experience.
- The rest of the cabal join the table. Mac leads the way to suggest that bringing the play to a larger audience is of mutual interest. Barriemore counters the suggestion that rival theatre groups may try to claim credit by reassuring the group that – as a patron and director of theatre institutions – his interests are purely to promote culture, and that he is happy to issue a joint public press release to announce the important role that the drama group have in delivering the play.
- They agree that the cabal will forward copies of what they have to Barriemore so that he can get some playwright experts to start filling in the gaps, and to arrange a meeting between the parties to take forward the plans.
- The morning newspaper reports the mauled bodies of Colman & Son have been found in the town. Barriemore looks surprised and distracted by the article, but tries to keep focused on the business in hand (while occasionally flirting with Miranda).
Looking out of the window, Mac sees that Amy Bassano appears to be rushing down the street towards them at the pub. Richard Campbell is in ungainly pursuit.
- Campbell is wielding a hospital crutch to propel him forward, though he appears to be in some discomfort as his body is slightly twisted. He looks as if he has just been in a car crash. His mop-haired head sports a gash from where blood has seeped and dried down his face and onto his shirt. He has a distinctly anaemic complexion, but shows no obvious signs of decomposition.
- The cabal hold their nerve at seeing the ghastly sight of their missing-presumed-dead playwright attacking Amy. They rush out to help.
- Nicholas and Jason rugby tackle Campbell to the ground.
- Campbell bloodies Nicholas’ nose, and as Jason’s arm slips his hold, the playwright sinks his teeth deep into the forearm of the restaurateur.
- Mac hears Jason’s pained screams, and rushes over to the fracas. Grabbing Campbell’s crutch, he takes aim at the restrained playwright, swinging it point-blank at his head, which crunches above the jaw, knocking the upper half of his skull to one side. Campbell’s bloodshot eyes roll to white as any sembalnce of life in him expires.
Splattered in blood, and high on adrenaline, the cabal members stand calmly above the corpse of Richard Campbell as a pool of blood spreads out on the road.