Rumours of an answer.
He’d gone down to Castle Market, which was almost all the answer I needed. Samuel has a manner with people that can irritate. He has a habit of letting Angela know what he wants by talking to Norman. And Castle Market isn’t full of the most intelligent, tolerant people either.
I joked with him, was he down there looking for the olde worlde experience. I know he hates supermarkets and barcodes, and the market is more like the lost Britain he wants back. Samuel said it was nice, but what he went for was to meet a friend.
“So who beat you up, your mate?”
“My..? No. I don’t know who they were. There were six of them.”
“Of course.” I said.
“Took my legs, and then kicked me while I was on the floor. I don’t know who they were.”
“You said. So you suspect someone?”
“Not as such. There are people.”
“And where was this, in the market?”
“Out of one of the exits. I suppose they use it for deliveries.”
“Was this before or after you met with your friend?”
“After, but that’s not really important.”
“And how come you’ve got friends here all of a sudden? I didn’t think anyone knew you here.”
“No one did.” Samuel said.
“It was a woman then.”
“Not at all. A friend, as I said. Or rather, a contact.”
“Suggesting information. Suggesting a motive for a beating. Suggesting liberties with my hospitality.”
“I think that’s something of a hasty judgement. I spoke to a former ally of mine, who suggested we meet near the markets. There’s a lot of activity there, or rather there was, they may have all moved on now. Under the markets, as I’m sure you know, there are the foundations of Sheffield Castle – which means a link back to before the civil war, and further back, to the age of the Ordovician. Which is turn means suspicions of a dormant power – fingerprints of magic on the stones themselves.”
Samuel’s other bad habit is telling people stuff like it’s a lost commandment.
“So all the former magic men got very excited,” he said, “about the possibility of a power old enough and stubborn enough to resist whatever it is that’s stopped their magic working. The idea of it has them hanging around the Tower Of London, and had them scurrying up here.”
“You don’t believe in it yourself.” I said.
“I think desperate men are more likely to drown when the water is shallow.”
“Or beat people up when the market is closing?”
“I’ve no proof that they’re connected to-”
“Didn’t you have your sword on you?”
Samuel chose to stop talking to me then. He’s been a bit of a girl about the whole thing to be honest. I’m sure he’s in proper pain - I’ve seen the purple marks across his body, and his face is still decidedly Balboa – but he refuses to talk about it unless I goad him. He’s been living like a superhero for the last seventy years, and now he’s as mortal as the all rest of us. But it sounds like they’re all still chasing the power – dressing it up as investigation or research, refusing to accept that this is the world now. What they used to have is just fairy stories.