This morning’s walk took Felicia and I across the bridge to the public path through the Laverstone woods to the waterfall. It’s a public path by day but since it’s on Manor grounds it’s closed to the public from dusk until dawn, which leaves Gillian free to roam as she pleases without being tempted by the stray neck of tweed-coated walker.
We followed the trail up the hill to Lovers Leap. It used to be called Laver’s Leap but local romanticism, and the legend of a pair of lovers jumping into a 300 foot drop and being saved by the hand of God changed its name. He didn’t save them, of course. Frankly, I don’t think he gives a monkey’s about what the mortals get up to as long as they organise the resurrection lottery in time for the apocalypse.
At the edge of the waterfall, just by the remains of the old stone jetty the stretched out over the falls (a brainwave of the late Fortesque Waterman, who insisted that lime cement would be impervious to the spray) Felicia stopped and growled.
I stopped too. Since it was well after dawn, though still early as far as mortals reckon it, it could be a walker. I shifted into the restricting human form and edged forward.
Felicia was quivering with suppressed energy so I let her go. She knows better than to rip the throats out of passers by, so I didn’t see any harm in it. She dashed straight past the falls into the clearing twenty yards behind, where the beeches cluster around an old stone. It used to be a portal to Faerie but was ripped in the sixteenth century; the lintel used in the foundation of the original manor house.
The standing stone at the top of the Leap still has power for those who know how to take it. Somebody does. What had got Felicia all worked up was several spots of blood -- long dried but nevertheless still evident – at the base of the stone.
Whoever accessed the stone was after the strength of the leyline that runs beneath it. The only people who use leylines are witches and the Fae. Either way I knew we were in for a bucketload of trouble. Since we had a poppet already, my bet was on the former, but once a leyline is tapped you tend to get the interest of the latter as well.
Ley power doesn’t belong to the Fae, but they think of it as theirs. Imagine a farmer with a well on his land. He doesn’t own the water in it, but you just see what he says when you help yourself to a bucketful.
I gathered up the leaves with dried blood on them, took a final look around the clearing and whistled Felicia. Called her anyway. I still haven’t mastered whistling.
Once we got back to the manor after our morning walk, having detoured to the bottom of the drive to collect the milk from where the milkman leaves it, Felicia dashed off to have a shower before work. Fortunately she changes back into human form for that else the whole manor would stink of wet wolf.
I made myself a cup of tea and took it out onto the terrace. Gillian’s mau cats were already waiting for me; they know I usually give them something in the morning, though they won’t even reveal themselves if Felicia’s still in wolf form. She ate one last year and Gillian didn’t talk to her for weeks. The cats remember that.
I think they only like me because I am the conqueror of that mysterious device they can’t open. They know it contains food, but since Harold put a catch on the fridge door they can’t open it. I’ve seen their genetic blueprints, though. They’re trying to breed a cat with thumbs although so far all they’ve produced was one that three inch claws instead. I borrowed him to infiltrate into the homes of little old ladies.
I fed them the trout I’d picked up at the bottom of the falls and they all sloped away again, leaving me to enjoy my tea under the first rays of the sun as it climbed above the stables.
Then Harold got up. I swear, it’s a good day spoiled.