During breakfast everybody gives the front door a glare but surprisingly nothing happens, leaving them to spend at least one day preparing for the reception in peace
Troy comes over to discuss the orphanage so it is left to Arthur to open the door when the doorbell does ring in the early afternoon, coming face to face to the Iron Duke who says he needs to talk to young Baroness Rossmore
Arthur says he’ll fetch her but gets directly followed
He knocks and tells Darcy directly who it is, prompting her to go poof into a mist bank right in front of Troy, who thinks she just pulled a magic trick and tries to disperse the fog (which seems to hide under the table) to find where Darcy is hiding
Having heard Troy’s exclamation the Duke allows Arthur to get into the room ahead of him.
While he hasn’t seen Darcy do this before he has read the book and realizes what happened asking Darcy to please turn back because the Duke seems to have something serious to discuss.
She ends up sitting under the table, slightly panicked but trying to pull herself back together. Troy gets send out, with being allowed free access to the kitchen.
Duke Stark enters and is rather polite, firstly thanking them for the wedding invitation, mentioned that Beatrice asked him to get help because her household is good with magic and while he is good with the strange, the mystical eludes him and Darcy is the closest ally who might be able to help
Darcy assures him that she is willing to help and is given a folder with the official seal of the duchess and told to keep this to as confidential as possible
Excusing himself Stark gets escorted out of the door by Arthur and takes off, the incoming dust cloud stops dead in his tracks and looks deeply frustrated that he missed Duke Stark, for which neither Arthur nor Darcy have any empathy
Michael suggests to involve Troy and Darcy reluctantly agrees, still horrified that she fogged out in front of him, so she sends Michael to get him while Artie and her open up the letter:
Seven entire households (families and servants, about 50 all together) in less than 24 hours vanished from forced entry houses in York, one hour before the first disappearance somebody broke into Hamley’s toy store and stole every teddy and doll, first disappearances at about 11
Troy is hesitant because he doesn’t want to leave the kids and Brenda without income, which Michael promptly solves by presenting Lionel as his new understudy (getting Lionel to huff up)
Michael manages to utterly overlook Troy’s negative reaction to Lionel, who once he teleported them over to Brenda quickly convinces her that Troy will be expendable for a bit and then brings Troy back (out the carriage door from the inside) in appropriate clothing and a travel bag
Luckily Troy appeared after Darcy was busy putting kisses on both her husband and John, so the conversation he has with Michael while they are driving the carriage (not killing the horses despite a constant run) revolves around Michael’s past. He also learns that Darcy apparently has a supernatural sense of hearing when it comes to things she probably shouldn’t hear, aptly described by her as “wife ears”
At one sudden bump in the road Darcy’s immediate reaction is to cover Arthur so that the tumbling books don’t hurt her poor, little frail brother, garnering her a rather incredulous look from Arthur
They arrive at a smaller palace in York and are brought in front of Beatrice who hopes that Tony behaved to which Darcy only gives a curt answer prompting Michael to grab the conversation and introducing Troy as a resourceful new arrival to Whitby who already helped them on multiple occasions
Arthur establishes that he needs to investigate the scenes before he can come up with a good theory and Colonel Burnside is delighted to be along for another investigation (annoying Darcy who now has two people she cannot show her actual strength around)
They stop at the toy store first and find the highly distressed manager in an office that held a collection of antiques that got stolen alongside 150 dolls and teddy bears
The only report they have is from a homeless man saying that it sounded like a crowd was in the building
Darcy, at this point rather annoyed by having to play the aloof lady, is more than happy to follow Arthur around on his investigation to provide authority, while Michael is making the others believe they are not being excluded from the investigation
Sniffing his way along Arthur not only discovers a key missing and the backdoor being the escape route but also tracks the magic smell down to a crate in the cellar with a note only to be opened by the manager. As with the witch’s mannequin, the crate is broken open from the inside and Arthur can feel the same magic dispersing with each empty doll stand they come past.
Troy having kept an eye on the two did not count on Arthur noticing him and greeting the lamp. Darcy gets rather indignant about being watched and is giving the lamp a death glare from behind her fan
Once the two return to inform the manager Michael is using his new husband privileges to openly hold Darcy’s hand (knowing how much she dislikes being in social situations) while Arthur asks to have the crate put under lock until he can investigate it more
They then set out to follow the trail while it is fresh enough
The Colonel is entertaining Troy with old war stories when he isn’t asking him about how he fell in with our household
Arthur’s nose leads him up against a wall but Pretty luckily can follow the trail up on the roof tops (while Darcy grumbles silently that she could just have carried Arthur up the wall), so the group gets guided by Pretty mewing adorably to not attract attention to a talking cat and finds themselves in the upperclass quarter of town and at the first crime site
The stationed soldier at first reacts to the Colonel but gets rather flustered when Darcy produces a letter of confidence from the Duchess that also identifies her as a Baroness (Arthur has to hide a smirk at Darcy being smug at startling the poor man)
Inside the empty house Arthur finds that the point of entry was the children’s bedroom and the magic smell reminds him of the book Darcy and him got trapped in, leading him to believe that the families are magically trapped somewhere
Michael asks the children in the area (under a strict eye from their nanny and Darcy providing female legitimacy) and finds out that many of the children did see strange things but decided against opening their windows and thereby saving their families