Unexpected Visit

You can read Paul’s story from the beginning here – Under Dark Hills

“You can’t keep breaking into people’s houses to clean!” Paul said. He rubbed a weary hand over his face. This was not what he wanted to deal with straight after breakfast.

“Why not?” Liz asked, putting the last of the breakfast dishes away. “It’s not like I took anything, not even a cup of tea. And the Bible says that a labourer is worth of their hire.”

“But you weren’t hired!” Paul said. “And people feel uncomfortable, that there could be someone breaking in at any time. They can’t sleep. And they feel judged.”

Liz sniffed. “I’m not surprised that they feel judged,” she said. “I would if I had left the kitchen in that state. The oven was like a midden. And as for the state of the fridge…”

Paul held up a hand. “You cannot keep going into other people’s houses and cleaning without their permission,” he snapped. “Just don’t.” He narrowed his eyes. “What’s that in the shopping bag?”

Liz lifted her chin. “Just a few rags and some of my home made cleaning spray. I’m going down to see Mr McGuire and he doesn’t mind if I have a bit of a wipe around in his workshop. He says he appreciates my efforts and will take me out to dinner.”

Paul frowned. “Be careful,” he said. “You know that Richard isn’t letting Carol go anywhere on her own. Do you want me to walk you down?”

Liz picked up her jacket and shrugged into it, fastening it defiantly and checking the lay of the lapels and the set of her scarf before replying. “I’ll be fine. I have hidden depths, Mr Kidson. I’m sure that I will be quite safe. Besides, it’s only down the lane and barely after breakfast. What could possibly happen?”

Paul watched Liz through the window as she marched down the lane and across the short cut to the cottage where Theo was staying. Then he picked up his cup of coffee and unlocked the paper room. Richard had thought that it could take a year to sort through the piles of paper in here, but that was an underestimate. He set the coffee down and locked the door behind him before switching on the small radiator. There was enough material here to keep a proper archivist busy for years let alone an amateur like him.

He sat down at the desk. It was looking better, though. There were still the heaps of letters and reports of various types, but the notebooks now had a sort of order and there were clear spots on the floor. He had even found a protective circle inked into the fraying matting. There was still no trace of the paladin, though.

Paul switched on the computer and stared blankly as it booted up. He knew that Liz was a brownie and that Mike was a werewolf and possibly head of a pack. He was fairly sure that Richard was one of the vampires from the notebook. Nathan was possibly a vampire as well, but he couldn’t be sure. Carol seemed to just about the same as him, a regular human. But he could feel something moving in the ether, something on the psychic plane was stirring. Unfortunately whatever it was had disturbed all of Paul’s attempts at scrying. He was no expert at scrying at the best of times, and the feedback he got when he tried was giving him headaches.

Theo wasn’t the paladin, Paul was sure. With the best will in the world, Theo wasn’t the calibre of the men that Paul found in the notebooks and papers. He was a good man, but he liked a drink a little too much and he got carried away. And who in their right mind wanted to be a vampire? Paul couldn’t see the attraction. Theo may want to be involved in all the strange things that the notebooks recorded, but show him a missing sheep and some suspicious paw prints, and Theo would be loading up with silver bullets instead of remembering that the important point was that a sheep was missing. He would never think of asking who was selling cheap leg of mutton in the pub last weekend.

But he needed to find that paladin. He kept finding hints and clues that something dreadful was hiding up on the moors. He needed help looking through the papers to find more information. He needed to know that Carol and Liz, and even Theo, would be safe. He realised that his phone was ringing.

“Hello, Liz,” he said as he picked up. “Is everything alright?”

“Mr Kidson, please will you let Mr Dark know that there is a werewolf here and not in a nice way,” Liz said, panic vibrating through her formal language. “I mean, I managed to get out of the way, like a good brownie, but it has Mr McGuire trapped behind his silver press and there’s something else there, but I’m too scared to look.” Her voice broke.

“I’ll let him know and I’ll be right down,” Paul said, unlocking the door as he spoke and locking it behind him. “Stay hidden and don’t panic.”

“But Mr Kidson…” Liz whispered, but Paul hung up. He grabbed thick gloves and a scarf from the rack in the hall and picked up a stout, silver topped walking stick. He slammed the door after him and rang Richard.

“Richard, it’s Paul. There’s a werewolf acting aggressively at Theo McGuire’s cottage. I thought you needed to know. Theo and Liz are trapped there.”

There was a brief hesitation. “I’ll be right there,” Richard said. “Don’t engage. Keep back.”

Paul hung up and started running.

He didn’t try to be quiet as he ran up. He could hear growling and snarling, and the best way to save Liz and Theo was to distract whatever was making that noise. “I’m coming!”

Richard passed him, running far faster than most mortals, and hurtled into the shed that was acting as Theo’s workshop. Paul followed him, straining his ears for any clue about what was there.

“I want the notebook,” Paul heard a husky voice demand as Richard reached the shed door. “And I know that you have it.”

“You!” Richard yelled, and dived in.

Paul was a long minute after. He raced into the brightly lit shed and took in the scene. In one corner there was something going on, something magical, where Richard and a presence were tangled in an arcane battle. More pressing for Paul was the huge, scrawny werewolf growling at Theo who was trapped behind the silver press. It took Paul two steps to get within reach of the creature and then he swung the walking stick – hard. The silver knob at the end hissed as it sank deep into the side of the werewolf, who howled and then turned, snarling.

“Paul, get back!” Theo yelled. “It’s not normal.”

Paul ignored him, spinning the stick around in his hand and using the momentum to hit the werewolf hard on the side of its head. It howled and staggered, fading and flowing into a skinny, naked man who rolled, groaning to his feet, a livid burn on his face.

“You are going to regret that, meat,” the werewolf snarled, swinging hard at Paul’s head. “I’m going to eat you slow.”

Paul didn’t waste time on talking. Instead he ducked under the man’s punch and punched back – hard. The man reeled back, surprised. Paul followed up with a swift kick in the ribs, and another, dancing around him and forcing the werewolf back, away from Theo and back toward the door. The werewolf shook his head and staggered a few feet backwards before snarling and bounding back towards Paul. Paul met him with a roundhouse punch, neatly placed under the creature’s chin. The creature fell back, his eyes out of focus.

Paul risked a glance behind him. There was still a magical tangle behind him, but it looked like Richard was getting the worst of it. He turned back to the werewolf who was coming back to its senses and glaring at Paul.

“I’m going to eat your beating heart,” it growled.

Paul let the words wash over him as he tried to get the measure of the creature. He feinted a high punch and then, as the werewolf raised its hands, stamped hard on its knee. There was a sickening crunch and the creature folded to the floor, snarling and flowing back into the shape of a lame wolf, snapping wildly.

Paul took a step back. “Are you hurt, Theo?”

“No, it didn’t bite me. What are you doing, man?” Theo sounded panicked. “And where’s Liz?” He staggered out from the press. “I need to find Liz.”

“I’m here,” Liz stepped out of a shadow and ran to Theo who held her tight.

Paul tossed the cane to Theo. “If it moves, hit it with the silver end,” he said. He didn’t wait to see Theo’s reaction. Instead he spun around towards the magical battle in the corner.

He was too late. Richard was pinned against the wall by magical forces. The gaunt shape of his opponent twisted, folded and disappeared with a sharp crack. Paul swore and, ignoring the snarling behind him, ran over.

“It’s magical,” Richard said. “We’ll need to get help. I could do it but I’m stuck on the inside of the damn charm.” He grimaced and his fangs showed. “I’m sorry that you got caught up with this. But I promise, I’m harmless, and so is Mike. He’ll be coming to take care of the puppy over there.” Richard gasped in pain as the magical bonds contracted. “You need to get hold of Ian Tait. Tell Mike when he gets here if I can’t.” He stopped and then swore loudly.

Paul studied the bonds. “You don’t have much time,” he said. “Hang on…” He frowned as Richard gritted his teeth against the shrinking bonds. “Theo, do you have white chalk? Or something that writes white?”

“It’s over in the cabinet in the corner,” Theo said, keeping an eye on the werewolf writhing in front of him. “Liz can get it.”

Paul didn’t take his eyes from the bonds contracting around Richard as he was held against the unpainted brick. “I’ve got this,” he said. He felt the whiteliner pushed into his hands and, muttering a quick thanks, stepped forward. He kept clear of the magical field itself as he carefully inked in the glyphs. “This magic seems about as dark as it gets,” he said as he inked in another glyph. “If you’re a vampire, it may sting a little when my spell activates, but it should free you.”

Richard grunted as the magical bonds cut deeper into him. “I can hear Mike coming,” he forced out. “You can wait.”

“You can’t,” Paul said calmly. He inked the last glyph, centred himself, muttered a few more words and there was a flash. Richard howled, then fell to his knees as he was released from the bonds, scorched but free.

Mike skidded into the shop with two large wolf like shapes bounding next to him. “What the hell!”

Richard pulled himself to his feet, the marks slowly fading as his vampiric healing kicked in. He looked gaunt and wracked with pain, though, as he stood and took a deep breath. “Thank you,” he said to Paul. He looked around the workshop. Scorch marks stained the walls and craft supplies were widely scattered. Liz was wide eyed and tearful and Theo looked deeply shocked. Paul stood, still calm and poised, watching Richard warily. There was a moment of silence as everyone caught their breath.

Richard broke it. “Mike, take the stray and deal with it. Theo, my apologies that you were so inconvenienced. We will speak later. Liz, we need to speak later but for now I request that you clean this workshop. Paul, my deepest thanks. Please come with me to Dark Manor to talk.” Richard smiled faintly. “You will  be quite safe.”

“Yes,” Paul said steadily, “I will.”

4 thoughts on “Unexpected Visit

    1. I’m not ready to lose Richard yet. As for the paladin – watch this space!

      Thank you for commenting. I’m glad that you are enjoying it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.