“We used ta visit here often when I was younger,” Seoc explained, leading Seymour through an open door. “Twas like a second home ta me. This was always my room. Uncle Alasdair’s pretty much left everythin’ untouched.”
By the light of the moon, Seymour could see that the space was smaller than his own room, obviously suited for the needs of a child. The bed was small and low to the floor, adorned with a colorful patchwork quilt and a burlap toy that bore some resemblance to a dog. Against one wall there was a bookcase, small enough so that all of its contents were within easy reach of someone less than four feet tall. There was a footstool beside the washbasin, and the candle on the nightstand was of the low, squat variety that couldn’t be easily upset.
This Seoc lit, and with its wick, he transferred the flame to several longer, thinner candles that were mounted in brackets upon the walls. Then, he strode over to the bookcase and squatted to remove three leather-bound volumes, returning with them to the bed and sitting down on the edge of the mattress with the books in his lap. Seymour sat gingerly down beside him, concerned that their combined weight might put excessive stress on the wooden frame. It groaned slightly, but nothing gave, so he supposed it was sturdier than it looked. The positioning, however, nearly put his knees to his chin, and he had to stretch his legs well out into the room to compensate.
“I was the reason why my family used ta come here, you ken,” Seoc said suddenly, looking down at the dusty tomes in his lap. “I dinna get seizures here. Uncle Alasdair says it’s probably because there’s what’s known as a magical spring nearby, where power seeps up through the ground. Same as with Sichtir. An’ I think there must be one in Waelyngar, too, or else I would have died there.” He began to thumb through one of the books as he spoke, his fingers running along the lines of text, searching. “The thing about magical springs is that they attract magical things, an’ no’ just mages an’ sorcerers an’ suchlike. Other things, alder things, both good an’ bad.”
A thought crossed Seymour’s mind then, unbidden. And somewhere in between.
“This castle,” Seoc went on, “is no’ the original Castle Carviliet, no’ the one that King Marandur built in the year 228. That one fell ta ruin an’ has been lost ta time. It’s near here, though, somewhere between here an’ Edmund Manor, Lord Henry’s estate. An’ it is located directly on top o’ that magical spring. Problem is, no one knows exactly where it is. That’s what my uncle says, at least.”
“Has no one gone to look for it?”
“No, people have. Most come back having seen no sign of it.”
“What about the rest?”
“Well,” said Seoc, flipping through the pages now so quickly that they blurred in front of Seymour’s eyes. “The rest never return. Remember how I said these springs attract things? Sometimes bad ones?”
Seymour looked at him out of the corner of his eye. “You think one of those has gotten into the Carvil spring?”
“Exactly. And I think I know what it is.”
“Some sort of demon?”
Seoc shook his head. “No, there are only four true demons, and none o’ them fit the clues I’ve pieced together.”
“And you said you knew nothing about solving mysteries…?”
“I’ve just read a lot, alright? It’s different. Ah, here we are,” he declared, stopping with his finger on page 399. He pointed to the title. “Had you noticed that Simon tends ta babble aboot a voice called ‘Snake’?”
Seymour lowered his eyes to the page entitled “The Serpent of the Silver Tongue.”