“You certainly seem to be well-versed in Ancient Magramish mythology,” Seymour commented, absentmindedly brushing away the layer of dust that had accumulated in the grooves of the Moriba clock.
“As I ought to be, having lived my whole life in the Carvil Valley.”
“Why? Because of its proximity to the Magramish border?”
“No,” she said. “Because the Carvil Valley is where the legends were born. In olden times, the Magrams, and the Madaram Elves before them, believed this to be the holiest place in the world. Magic, the stories say, rises up in springs from deep within the earth, and runs like rivers along the valley floor. And perhaps there’s something to that. I think it’s no coincidence that every Alt-Mage of Murkintsen for the past five hundred years has made his home here, or that the Edmund family has churned out generation upon generation with some form of arcane power or another. Likely, if there is such a thing as a magical spring, it lies somewhere between those two points: Edmund Manor and Carviliet.”
“Do people go searching for it?”
“Oh yes.” Ms. Barrowman smiled slightly. “Oh, yes. They go searching. But they tend to wind up dead.”
“Is that so?”
“It is. Seems there ain’t a day goes by that someone doesn’t wander off into the woods, never to return. Sometimes they find a body. More often than not, they don’t. Oh yes, there is evil in this valley, as oft there is in any sacred place that’s been forgotten. It is old, but with every passing year it grows stronger and more noticeable.”
Seymour furrowed his brow. Her words troubled him. He was tempted to dismiss this all as superstitious nonsense, but then again, he was fairly certain that he had met the Queen of the In-Between by a dock on the south bank of the Murkintir River, so he couldn’t help but keep an open mind to the whole thing. To think otherwise, he would have had to admit to himself that he was probably losing his senses, and he wasn’t prepared to do that.
With a sigh, he glanced at his pocket watch—promptly realizing that such an action was hardly necessary, since he was literally surrounded by timepieces—and stood up. “While I’d love to hear more about this fascinating subject,” he said. “I’d really better be going. I have to prioritize the case at hand.”
“It’s been nice talking with you.” He took a few steps, then paused. “I’d like to stop by again sometime before I leave the valley, when my work here is done. I want to hear the old stories.”
Ms. Barrowman nodded, and Seymour exited the shop.