An ancient and malignant evil seeps through the decaying walls of a deserted building in the heart of old Edinburgh. Like a ghost from the past it haunts the dark alleys and streets of town as its influence poisons friendships, creates discord and leads to murder… This is Major Weir’s dark legacy to the town he called home. When one bookseller is murdered and another accused of the crime Robert Young of Newbiggin is called upon to help and has to use all his talents as an investigator to try and save an old friend from the noose. Unfortunately when all the evidence points towards his guilt is it already too late?
The dark and oppressive feeling they had all felt in the entrance hall only intensified as they climbed higher within the house being forced to climb in single file due to both the narrowness of the stairs themselves but more importantly from the lack of any handrail to keep the ever deepening chasm to the side. Each landing they came to held the doors to empty and long abandoned rooms with each seeming to be gloomier than the one before.
“Am I the only thinking that this hoose is just plain weird?” MacIan said as they finally reached the top landing and could see the final tight staircase leading to the tower room where Lise had told them the book would be found.
Robert felt cold shivers running down his spine as his eyes were drawn towards the stairs as someone replied with a chuckle to MacIan’s question with “aye, it’s weird.”
“Sergeant!” MacIan snapped back at Anderson who just looked at him in surprise.
“I never said a thing sergeant” he replied as he glanced back to Robert who shrugged helplessly.
“Well I didn’t say anything so either we are all imagining that we are hearing the same thing or there is something seriously wrong with this house!” He looked all around for any signs that someone was playing a trick on them without success. “Come on, let’s just grab that damned book and then get out of here before anything else happens.”
Not wishing to spend another minute there he pushed back the two redcoated defenders of Law and Order and hurried up the confined staircase cursing as his shoulders barged against the walls causing plaster and dust to come cascading down over and around him in a choking cloud he could barely see through as he emerged in the tiny room as he waved the cloud from his face. Again he could see in the dancing shadows and dust a figure appear and vanish before his disbelieving eyes. Had he been Catholic he knew he would have been crossing himself right now and saying a Hail Mary but as a man of the Church of Scotland he had to console himself by gritting his teeth and swearing under his breath. “Superstitious nonsense!” he told himself firmly as finally the dust cleared enough to allow him to see a small table below a tiny window on which, under a thin skin of plaster dust lay the long sought book. “Thank you God” he murmured in a heartfelt prayer as he stepped forward and lifted the book from where it lay. It was only as he did so that he remembered Lise’s words about how she had dropped the book on the floor and left it there when she fled from the building the day before. He shook his head. She must have been mistaken he decided as he brushed the dust from the leather cover and gave an involuntary shudder at the inverted pentagram his fingers uncovered. “Damn this book and damn Major Weir!” he said as he forced the book into his coat pocket.
“And damn you” he heard faintly causing his head to snap around to find nothing but the empty room to be seen. That was all the invitation he needed to be on his way as he practically ran down the narrow stairs no longer caring that his best suit was getting more and more ruined with every step until he emerged on the landing where MacIan and Anderson anxiously awaited him.
“Ye got it?” MacIan asked in a tense voice. Even the fearless Highlander wanted to be gone from Weir’s house. When Robert confirmed he had the book both guardsmen sighed with relief. “Praise be! Right, let’s get gone from this hellish place!”
Only the need for care on the stairs stopped them running downwards while all around them the shadows seemed to lengthen and hang over their heads like great dark hands while below them in the entrance hall all were horrified to see the door to the street start to slowly and silently swing closed. Without a word being said all felt that if they were still within the building when that door closed they would never leave and in a state of near panic they thundered down the stairs as all caution was thrown to the four winds while what sounded like chuckling and whispers buzzed in their ears.
Anderson was the first to reach the hallway and without pausing he rushed forward and plunged out the door with MacIan and Robert hot on his heels so that all three ended up in an unceremonious heap again at the foot of the outside stairs while behind them the door closed with a resounding slam that would have woken the dead causing several people who happened to be walking by to jump in alarm as every eye turned to stare in horror at the dreadful house.
From the tangle of bodies on the footpath at the bottom of the steps Robert fought to control his breathing until he could finally say through his chittering lips “we never speak of this again…to anyone!”
Born and raised on the east coast of Scotland in the ancient Pictish Kingdom of Fife Stuart grew up looking across the Firth of Forth towards the spires and turrets of the city of Edinburgh and its castle atop its volcanic eyrie.
He has always been fascinated by the history of Auld Reekie and has spent most of his life studying Scottish history in all its aspects whenever he finds the time between family, work and the thousand and one other things that seek to distract him.
Despite the vast panorama of Scotland’s history he always find himself being drawn back to the cobbled streets of the Old Town. Those streets have provided the inspiration for his stories and characters.
He would urge all visitors to Scotland’s ancient capital to (briefly) venture into one of the narrow closes running down from the Royal Mile to get a flavour of how alive with mischief, mayhem, love and laughter these streets once were.