Ice looked over Mikel House with a new perspective.
"I can even see things in the old photos that I wasn't recognizing before." He tapped a picture. "I just assumed the dark floor was wood. But it could just as well be black marble."
"But we didn't find any . . . but there have been waves of people living here since then, and the last owner who actually lived here probably stripped anything salable." Keiq grimaced. "Not to mention looters . . . although . . . I think the Paranormal Guild ladies are the only trespassers we've seen. Do you suppose there's an anti-looting spell on the house?"
"That would explain things like the stove and sink not getting hauled off for scrap metal." Ice leafed through the book . . . "Here the floor has light colored patterned tile, and the fireplace is tiled."
"Much more traditional Islamic than the original. Taken in 554 yp. Over eight hundred years ago." Keiq wrinkled her nose. "I should have asked when this house was built."
"Started in 379, according to Jeb. Then Mikel got sent off to Southern Africa. So it didn't get finished until 385. By which time his three wives had settled down in Riyah and told him to leave them alone. He married a Helga, granddaughter of Hugo and Furkan in 386, divorced her in 393, no children. He married Tanya in 395, baby born in 396. Then Mikel died in 397."
"Did you get that from Makkah?"
"Partly, and partly confirming my own research." He walked over and pointed under the stairs on the right. The tower must have gone up from there . . . no sign of the door now. I wonder if I could get in from the basement?"
Keiq grinned. "I haven't been down there. Shall we look for skeletons?"
Ice grinned back. "Now that I think about it, that's where the Ladies ought to have held their seance." He followed her past what the books called the breakfast room, and the kitchen to the stairs leading down. He collected heat for a light ball and tossed it down the hole in the floor.
Keiq grinned and stepped onto the ladder and climbed down quickly. Her astonished "Oh!" floated back up.
Ice headed down . . . and blinked at the huge open space, crossed by arches. Two lines of them running off into the darkness, and cross arches from the front wall to the back.
Ice paced them out, footsteps echoing. "Six meters from the front wall puts this line of arches under the wall of the banquet room and ball room. Another six meters and we're under the wall that runs from the kitchen to the beam holding up the second floor balcony and between Mikel's office and that amazing bathroom."
Keiq snickered. "I may try to find bathroom fixtures in that style, in brass. I feel no need for solid gold, nor even gold plate." She squeezed down heat and created a light ball of her own and walked further into the basement. "This big pillar must be the support for the fireplaces above?"
"Yep and that over there must be the base of the tower stairs." Ice walked over to the corner of two short concrete walls, and around to find a doorway on the north side. Filled with twisted rusty metal.
Keiq eyed it, sent her light upward. "It looks like the tower stairs collapsed all the way down into the basement."
Ice knelt to examine the floor, the metal wasn't sitting right, over there . . . reached and poked his finger into the concrete. "Ha! I thought that looked odd. It's a persistent illusion over a hole. Damn! And I was proud of illusions that lasted months. I think Mikel had an escape tunnel."
"And you cut it off?" Kieq eyed it.
"No, I think the slump collapsed it, and then the runoff found an easy channel, right under the house." Ice rocked back to his feet. "I didn't expect the tower entry to be on this side. We're pretty much under that bathroom."
Keiq snickered. "What do you want to bet he had a secret entrance in the bathroom?"
Ice grinned and looked around. "There's the bricked up stairs to the patio at this end. And given the rustlings in the debris around the windows, I wonder if they had a problem keeping the critters out?"
"It doesn't look like anyone ever used it for anything." Keiq held her light up and looked at the arches. "This is what they ought to have used as a ballroom."
"Yeah. Plaster over the concrete, flooring, good lighting . . . I don't know about the acoustics, though."
Keiq laughed, stopped at the echoes. "Yes. It would need absorptive surfacing."
Ice nodded. "Let's take another look at that formerly very fancy bathroom. Then I need to think about the windows."