A photo diary entry by Thursday Madaki
So, when I joined the SFI no one mentioned the ritual blood-letting. And, since then, it’s only been mentioned in passing- until the other day, when Evelyn said it was time to renew the Whistman contract.
‘I’d send someone else,’ Evelyn said, looking unusually sly, ‘but you haven’t left the archives for days and you need the exercise.’
‘Also the guardian will only deal with me.’
I interrupted then-
Instead of answering my question, Evelyn spoke to Bartholomew.
‘You should take her along.’
I hate it when they do that, like I’m the kid in a group of adults. I mean- I am, technically. But I hate being talked about like I’m not there.
Bartholomew was pulling a face like he was going to say no, so I spoke before he could.
‘I’d love to go!’
If only someone had mentioned it would involve hiking, and creepy blood drinking goat fairies.
Wistmans wood is only half an hour of walking from the main road, but that’s half an hour too much for my liking. I’m not really the biggest fan of the great outdoors, although I can appreciate Dartmoor’s weird brand of bleak beauty.
The drive to get there had been long, made longer by the fact that Jesper listens to recordings of scientific lectures whilst he drives.
Bartholomew and I played i-spy, but he said I cheated when ‘something beginning with A. M.’ turned out to be ‘abject misery’ because it was on HIS face and therefore he couldn’t spy it.
The reason we were driving all this way, then walking over uneven, ankle-twisting moorland, was because in the in the middle of nowhere is the kind of place you find a faerie who goes on vicious murdering rampages if you don’t check in on him every once in awhile.
The first contract was made in 2001, after a farmer who walked in the wood came home to find his sheep gone without a trace. Hikers were poked with invisible pins, and a young couple who carved their names into a tree drowned mysteriously in a shallow pool.
Evelyn, just starting out at Seaflower back then, tracked down the creature responsible, and made a deal. A deal that we were now heading out to reinforce.
The woods were beautiful and completely surreal. The entire floor was made up of huge rocks you had to climb and hop between, the trees were dripping with garlands of moss and lichen.
I barked my shins several times as Jesper led the scramble to the far side of the woods, where we stopped before a small cave formed under rocks and tree roots.
Bartholomew took something from his bag, unwrapping it and lying it on the ground. It was a athame- a ritual knife used in witchcraft.
‘I know you’re there,’ Bartholomew said.
I saw something move in the depths of the dark crevice. Light glinted on a pair of eyes, staring straight back at us.
To be continued in Sunday’s creature post! Please don’t hate me.