Now that I knew her scent was covered in leafmould I could follow it more easily. Felicia’s got a better nose for this but I can do it if I need to; I just have to really concentrate.
Once across the old wooden bridge I didn’t have to concentrate very hard. The trail turned left up the hill and there’s only one place to go from there: Up to the top of the waterfall and, if I knew my onions (which I do), onward to the Ley stone.
I was right, of course. She – and I’m now certain that it’s a semi-mortal witch – had been back up to the stone. I followed the scent of hemlock and nightshade to the old stone at the top of the falls where the scent of blood drew me to the base of the stone. I looked at the evidence of a few more drops of blood, picking a little of it up on my fingertips and sniffing it. It was similar to Harold’s.
I touched the rock, my wingtips flickering as I thought about it. Harold wouldn’t have been here at night and even if he had come here with Gillian he would have left far more than a few drops of blood. Gillian might be a fastidious eater but Harold needs a bib. This wasn’t hiss doing.
Was this something to worry about or not? If it was a local I would have recognised the scent. I followed the trail back down the hill to the bed of the waterfall. She had stood here for some time and to judge by the concentration of pheromones in the air she had been excited by something.
I went back to the Manor then. I’d have to ask Ada about something.
I saw her later.
It wasn’t an accidental meeting like I’d intended. What I wanted to do was to bump into her in the street and invite her to the little tea shop for a slice of cake and introduce the subject over conversation.
What actually happened was that I hung about in town all day without seeing her, then went and knocked on her door with a box of assorted French Fancies. No, they’re cakes. This is Harold’s mother we’re talking about. All right we did, yes, Once. It was a long time ago and it’s not going to be repeated.
Anyway, she made the tea* and we had a bit of a chat. She ate three of the cakes. I was counting. There never did seem to be an easy way of slipping the question into the conversation so in the end I came straight out with it. “Did you ever have another child?” I said. “A daughter, perhaps.”
She looked at me a bit oddly but told me she hadn’t. I believe her. She wouldn’t lie to a demon, would she?
* I say she made the tea but what she actually did was tell her imp to make it.