Sir Dylan knew deep down that he wasn’t made for this sort of work. He’d grown up in the back alleys of Holbeck, among the druggies and sex workers, abandoned any attempt at school around the age of twelve, by which time he was running drugs for the local gangs and hanging around parks drinking. He was not cut out for the more cultured and expensive area of Lawnswood. North Leeds was as alien to him at times as Mars. “So you asked your vicar?”
Mrs Girton nodded. “I don’t normally approve of patriarchal religion,” she said. “I feel that it’s an unnecessarily restrictive practice. But I’ve been desperate. I love my garden. And Kingsley hasn’t been comfortable going into the garden for months.”
Sir Dylan looked down at the Shih Tzu. It barked sharply at him. “And you’ve noticed that the garden is fading?”
“Are you really a knight?” Mrs Girton asked.
Sir Dylan sighed. “I wasn’t always a knight,” he explained, well aware that the neck tattoo and bulky muscles were not normally associated with chivalry. “I was drafted into the Knights Templar due to my experience. Can you show me the garden affected?”
Mrs Girton looked doubtfully at the amateur inkings on Sir Dylan’s ham sized hands. “You had better come this way.” She swallowed nervously and picked up Kingsley, holding the dog like a shield between her and the unfamiliar, dangerous looking visitor.
Sir Dylan followed her around the corner into the back garden. When you watched a gang of drug dealers torn apart by a pack of rogue werewolves, you had limited options. He had not chosen to lose himself in drugs, drink or madness. Instead he had joined the Knights Templar, the underground group that policed the werewolves, vampires and the rest of the non-normal community, to fight back. “I’m registered as a Special Constable, Mrs Girton. They did all the background checks.” To be honest, the Ministry of Justice had sent a strong letter to local station who had grumbled and watched him like a hawk.
“That’s reassuring,” Mrs Girton said. “Although I’ve heard a lot about police brutality.” She patted Kingsley nervously. “You know what they say.”
“They’re a good bunch, on the whole,” Sir Dylan said. He could say this safely as he hadn’t got much of a clue but the ones he had had dealings with had been straight enough – and bright enough not to trust him. A copper that trusted a tattooed, muscled thug that hunted rogue vampires was not fit for duty.
“It’s around here.” Mrs Girton said. She opened a gate into the back garden. It jingled.
Sir Dylan looked at it curiously. Bells and strips of multicoloured ribbon hung with mirrors were tied to the gate. “That’s very decorative.”
“No, I think it’s awful.” Mrs Girton said. “It’s just that I heard you can use mirrors and stones against them.”
“Against who?” Sir Dylan asked, looking around the garden.
“The Fair Folk,” Mrs Girton whispered.
Sir Dylan took stock of the garden. There was definitely an issue. It showed every sign of being cherished but there was a greyness in the air. There was a pond with some sort of fountain that had a film of dust over it. The shadows under the climbing roses seemed to be darker and not moving with the light. A dimness fell over what should have been a glorious display of flowers. “You’ve put up a lot of these things.”
Mrs Girton nodded. “I’ve put them everywhere, but nothing helps.”
Sir Dylan stepped forward. He had got into the Knights Templar by being good in a fight, but he had developed a few instincts over the years. He could feel the elfen presence, but he didn’t want to get anything started in front of Mrs Girton. He looked over to her. She was hugging Kingsley, who was growling at a stand of bamboo. He sighed. That was the problem with things nowadays. People could learn just enough to get into trouble but not enough to get out of it. Bright stones, dream catchers and windchimes hung from every available corner and was enough to drive anyone insane. And Mrs Girton was right – no elfen could get past that lot. “Mrs Girton, you haven’t kept something out of your garden. You’ve trapped it in.” He checked the area and then strode over to the side that bordered onto the trees sheltering the golf club. Most of the shiny gewgaws were firmly wired into place but he managed to unhook the stones, wired with intricate patterns, and create a gap. “Out!” he snapped.
“What?” Mrs Girton asked over Kingsley’s barking.
“I’m talking to the elfen,” Sir Dylan said. “And I said, out!”
A breeze rattled around the garden, shaking the blossoms, overturning a planter and ruffling the surface of the pond before shooting past Sir Dylan and then out.
Mrs Girton stared around her garden. Already it seemed brighter and Kingsley’s tail was wagging furiously. She put him down and watched as he raced around, sniffing happily. “So it’s gone?”
“Yes, it’s gone,” Sir Dylan carefully hung the stones back up. But I would be careful if I were you. How long were they trapped here?”
“It’s been over a year,” Mrs Girton said. “I mean, we bought the house for the garden and the view, and of course it’s near the golf course for my husband, but it has never felt right. And Jeff won’t play there anymore. He says he never has any luck. He goes to Alwoodley.”
“Then I suggest you move,” Sir Dylan said. “They won’t have been any happier than you, and they bear grudges for years.”
“But I’ve only just sorted out the kitchen!” Mrs Girton wailed.
“Then it will be a great selling point,” Sir Dylan said. “You have my number, if anything happens.” He turned towards the gate.
“How much do I owe you?” Mrs Girton asked. “I’ve got my purse in the house.”
“Just keep me in your prayers, Mrs Girton,” Sir Dylan said. “And I’ll be very grateful for that.”