I sat on the train with a backpack beside me and a folder on my lap containing some documents I'd managed to pilfer from the office in the library basement. There was no indication of who the notes belonged to; they were unsigned, but they mostly comprised a list of archaeological artifacts. Not being much of a historian, I couldn't spot the connection, but maybe Jenny would.
Her phone call earlier that morning had been distressed, her voice shaking. She was, she said, up on Alderley Edge, a local landmark sixteen miles south of the city, with a reputation for mythological history and a supernatural background. Legend has it that King Arthur and his knights of the Round Table sleep in one of the many caves under the Edge. No-one really believes that now, but the local pagans and druids believe the site to be one of magical significance; a place where faeries roam and the veil between this world and the other is thin.
As a shaman, I can tell you quite categorically that they're right.
The train terminated at the little town of Alderley Edge and I was the only person getting off here. It's a small town, but very opulent; every house would cost more money than I could ever hope to earn in my lifetime. The walk from the station was about a mile, through the town and up onto the Edge proper, where a faultline made a natural cliff that looked north over the Mersey floodplain. Normally I would have asked Jenny to drive down to the station and pick me up, but she sounded so distressed I had asked her to stay where she was.
The walk was uphill all the way. I took a shortcut along a road of very expensive houses and then through a gap in a wall, along the footpath that led all the way along the clifftop. The area was heavily wooded so most of the way there wasn't much of a view, but here and there; at Beacon Point and Castle Point, the trees would clear and on a bright day you could see all the way to Manchester and beyond. Today was not a clear day, and I had seen that particular view so often I didn't even bother looking. Finally at the other side of the Edge I came down a gentle slope and found Jenny waiting, as she'd promised, by the Stone Circle.
Contrary to the popular belief of most of the pagans who visited the area, the small circle was just a Victorian (or later) folly, made up of some stones that had at one point been carried up from the bottom of the cliff and arranged in a loose, uneven circle about fifteen feet in diameter. Today the circle was cordoned off with some blue and white police tape, but there were no police officers present and Jenny was sitting inside the cordon on one of the stones. She was staring off into space and didn't notice me until I spoke to her. When I did so, she looked up at me and I could see her eyes were red-rimmed from crying.