Yesterday, we attempted once again to ingratiate ourselves with the magicians at Castle Market, and their weird stall. Samuel is also on the look out for the men who beat him up, but what he’ll do if he finds them I don’t know. The more I think about how he procrastinated when we saw them on Tuesday, the more it seems as though he froze. It’s odd and unlikely that a man who claims to have been to the depths of hell and fought with demons should be afraid of a bunch of fat lads down at the market, but there it is. I’ve seen proof of the latter, and only have Samuel’s word on the former.
We went in turns to the stall, although Norman had nothing to say and felt awkward. I spoke to the shopkeep, Nicholas Graham, and he passed the time smugly telling me nothing. He seemed fascinated by Angela though, as I suppose a man like him would be. Samuel didn’t impress him at all.
Samuel knows a few of their faces, from his dealings as a greyman – although whether they helped or hindered him isn’t clear. One of their group, hanging around at the back of the stall, is Alex Reeves, a necromancer of repute and fortune. He spent years interrogating the dead for the whereabouts of their buried treasure. His presence, according to Samuel, means that there must be something worth looking at under the market – especially since Reeves spent football wages for unlimited private access to the British Museum only a month ago.
On my second trip down to the stall, Graham withdrew behind the partition that in most cases would screen off surplus stock: in this instance it concealed an excess of socially inept men muttering to each other. They can’t go down into the foundations until the markets close, but rather than meet at the end of the day, they huddle together and watch each other closely. It was the man with the pen stroke moustache who came back to the counter. He introduced himself as Arthur Enright: -
“I gather you want to see what’s left of the castle walls.”
“We want to see what everyone’s so excited about.”
“And you’re Edward Fold’s son right?”
“You knew him?”
“In as much as any of us know each other. For those of us who follow this path, we’re only aware of other people dimly. It’s more accurate to say I met him.”
“When was this?”
“Hard to say. We may not have been in the same year.”
“Well what does-”
“So! You’d like to see what we’ve found.”
“We would, yes.”
“We? Oh, the others. Well I don’t know about them, but I shall ask about you. There has to be consensus on these things of course. If you’ll wait, I’m afraid we’re not all here.”
I returned to the café we were using for the day and told the rest of them to give it a rest for now. They all went their separate ways instead.
After a few minutes I was joined by a man not quite like the magicians at the stall. He had the same academic pallor, but he looked a little sharper – I didn’t place it at the time, but he was able to look me in the eye without the sense he was counting them. Even Arthur Enright, the most self confident of that group, still appears to talking as though he’s just learnt eye contact is good manners. This new chap was in his fifties, in gold rimmed round specs, the collar of a white shirt poked up from under his tatty jumper and he wore one of those quilted, strung at the waist anoraks that old people seem to find important. His name is David Challoner, and he said the only sensible thing anyone said all day: -
“You know this whole enterprise is a waste of time.”
I asked him why.
“For two reasons. Firstly, they’re looking for remnants of energy from the manor house of Waltheof. But, as anyone who pays attention will know, the manor house was never here. It was out in an area they call Malin Bridge, heading out to the hills along the Rivelin river.”
“It’s more of a brook.” I said.
“You know it?”
“I live round the corner.”
“Let me guess,” after Enright this was starting to grate. “You knew my father as well.”
“I met him once, yes. He was kind enough to grant me an interview, but didn’t answer any questions. He would have made an excellent politician if he’d cared about people.”
“What’s the second reason?” I said, ignoring the slight.
“Mm, yes. Simply that if they find the remnants of Waltheof’s manor, it couldn’t possibly have any traces of power left after all this time, no matter how potent the source. Wrong sort of magic. But of course they can’t see that. They’re all so post-fourteenth-century that they forget their history.”
“Meaning what?” I was getting sick of riddles.
“They’re looking for the wrong stones.”
I said nothing, but stared at him for more.
“Ancient magic. I’ve told them, but they won’t listen to the likes of me. There are stone circles by the dozen out in your peak district, with magics older than history, reaching back to the tribes of Celts before the Romans came. But they won’t listen to me. Too busy scrabbling round in the dark.”
“So you mean like Stone Henge?” I said, pretty sure I’d have heard about something like that close to home.
“Nothing so grand I’m afraid. But then, it doesn’t have to be. Stone Henge itself was completely dried up, as was Avebury. But, do you know Bamford?” I told him I did. “Well there are a couple of stone circles near Bamford where I shall be investigating for the next couple of days. If you go down the road along the reservoir, there’s a picnic area to the left, and above that is the first of the stone circles, do you know it?”
Again, I said I did.
“Of course you do. Well, I shall be there tomorrow. Wear your hiking boots.”
An hour or more after David Challoner left the market, one of the magicians from the stall came over to me. Enright had sent him over, to say that a consensus had not been reached and so I ought to go home. He conveyed Enright’s apologies and suggested I try again tomorrow, which is to say today. I thanked him, and without telling the others, I resolved to meet Challoner at his stone circle.
It was my intention to tell you about this next, but having been disturbed by Angela and kept up late talking, I eventually fell asleep at the keyboard and have just woken up in some discomfort to find I hadn’t posted this entry yet. I have to go again now, but I will tell you all about yesterday when I return - hopefully with a more positive result.