Roanoke: Chapter Four
Edwyn le Fay looked around for some cab. By now, in London, there were several cabs which had done away with horses, and were powered by steam engines. But New York, in 1903, did not seem as reliant on steam power as London had been. All of the vehicles which he saw were pulled by horses.
He suspected that the use of Magick in New York was not as great as in London. Britain had two of the great schools of Magick in the world: one located at Edinburgh, the other at Glastonbury. He had trained at neither. His father had not really believed in Magick. Le Fay had had a little private tuition. But that was that. It had left him not the most competent of mages in the world. But le Fay had significantly added to his knowledge over the past six years or so, finally mastering the lost form known as Shadow Magick. In gaining the spellbooks of some of his enemies he had gained many other spells, as well.
All of those spellbooks were in his luggage. They were responsible for around seventy-five percent of the weight which he was carrying. But there was no way in which he would have left them behind.
Wizards tend to hoard their knowledge; and Edwyn le Fay was no different. He had rediscovered the lost realm of Shadow Magick. But he had no real desire to tell other wizards about what he knew. It was his secret. Besides, Shadow Magick had saved his life when he had gone up against the evil Gideon de Ville.
He hailed a cab, putting thoughts of Magick aside for the moment. Not that those thoughts would stay away: whereas most men thought about sex, oh, every thirty seconds or so, with wizards it was Magick.
“Where to?” the cabby asked. He had a strong accent, and a gruff appearance, wrapped up as those he was expecting winter to return.
“Can you take me to a hotel?” le Fay asked. “I need somewhere cheap to stay.”
“I know somewhere on the Lower East Side.”
That meant nothing to le Fay.
“Take me there.”
The hotel was not the nicest place where Edwyn le Fay had stayed. But it certainly wasn’t the worst. The man behind the counter wasn’t even wearing a tie. He was not close-shaven, and more than a little overweight. But he looked like he didn’t care. When le Fay got close to the man there was the smell of cheap bourbon on the other man’s breath.
“I’m staying for a couple of days.” le Fay said.
“Sign there.” a book was thrust under his nose. It had various squiggles which were supposed to be people’s names. Le Fay added another squiggle to the collection.
“2B.” the man behind the counter said.
“2B or not 2B?” le Fay said, thinking that he was being witty.
“What? No, 2B. That’s what I said.” The other man didn’t get the Shakespearean reference.
Le Fay went to his room. It was spartan to say the least, with a bed, a chair, and a Bible on a table beside the bed. But he didn’t care. He felt tired, and he stayed in the room for the rest of the day. He was simply glad to be back on terra firma.
The next day le Fay went around New York, seeing the sights which the city had to offer. Before leaving his hotel room, though, he had put his luggage under the bed. He had also taken his notebook, with his personal notes on the disappearance at Roanoke, with him. He could not afford to lose that notebook. All of the main details were in there, as long as his ideas on what had caused the disappearance.
He had thought about casting some spell to try to protect his possessions. But he had not been able to think of one which might have been effective. All that he had done was to lock his suitcases.
He went and had a look at the Statue of Liberty. He had already seen it as the steamer had approached the city. But his mind had been on other things at the time. Its three hundred and five feet towered over him. He read the sonnet The New Colossus, by Emma Lazarus, at its feet. But le Fay did not climb up inside the statue. He decided that he liked heights no more than he did the sea.
He went and had a look at Central Park, at the Botanical Gardens, at the Bronx Zoo. He stared upwards at some of the skyscrapers, and wondered who on Earth would want to be in a place like that.
He spent a full day going around New York, seeing its places, trying its food. He was worn out by the time that he got back to his hotel.
He got back to his room, after his tiring day of seeing the sights. But as soon as he entered the room he felt that something was wrong. His luggage was still under the bed. But he was sure that it was not in the exact same position as he had left his cases. Had someone been in his stuff?
Feeling very nervous he dragged his cases out from under the bed. The cases were still locked. But that didn’t mean anything. Locks could be picked. Even Magick could be used to unlock or lock a mechanism.
He went through his belongings. Everything still seemed to be there. But Edwyn le Fay could not shake the feeling that somebody had been in his room.
He ran down to the entrance. The same fat and ugly guy was sat behind his desk. He ignored the wizard. He was far more interested in the newspaper which he was reading.
“Has anybody been in my room?” le Fay asked.
“No.” the fat, unshaven guy did not even bother to look up from the article which he was reading.
“Are you sure?” le Fay asked.
Le Fay opened his mouth to argue. But he decided to leave it there. He was not going to go out without his belongings again. In the morning he would be continuing his journey to Roanoke Island. He certainly did not want to involve the American police. Le Fay was under the impression that not every American liked wizards.
He was still sure that somebody had had a look at his possessions, though. Somebody had been searching for something. It had to be the same person who had had searched this cabin on the steamer over here. He was being targeted by somebody, although he did not know why.
That night, when he went to bed, he wedged the chair under the door handle, just so he would not get murdered in his sleep.
He was awake before dawn the next morning. He had not slept well. The bed had been uncomfortable, and he was sure that there were bedbugs in it. But the worst thing was that he had had a nightmare where he had been pursued by a terrible, one-eyed giant which had been intent on gobbling him up. The dream had been meaningless, of course. But it had still been disconcerting. He could do without dreams like that.
Le Fay booked out of the hotel and went back to the port. It was time to try and get down to Roanoke Island. He had seen enough of the city of New York.
As he neared the ticket office there was a man in a checked suit who eyed le Fay. The man was in his fifties, with ginger hair and one of the largest cigars which le Fay had ever seen. Le Fay eyed the man back suspiciously. For the moment le Fay was suspicious of anybody who stared at him for too long. Could this be the man who had been in his hotel room?
“Busiest port in the world, New York.” the man said, biting down on his cigar. But le Fay did not believe that. Surely London was busier than New York? Le Fay smiled and nodded at the man, before walking onwards. He wanted to get out of New York, and away from whoever had taken an interest in him.
“I need to go to Roanoke in the Confederacy.” le Fay said, at the ticket office. “That is Roanoke Island in North Carolina, not the town of Roanoke in Virginia.”
The clerk behind the counter gave le Fay an odd look. Le Fay didn’t like the look. Was the clerk something to do with the person who had looked at his possessions? But le Fay did not see how he could be involved. Le Fay did not know that it was because he had asked for somewhere where the steamers did not call at.
“I have a ticket for a steamer which calls at Kitty Hawk. I think that’s the closest that I can get you.” the clerk said.
“That will be fine.” le Fay said. That was North Carolina. He had seen Kitty Hawk on maps of the coast. It was on Bodie Island, not all that far away from Roanoke Island. Le Fay was sure that he would be able to get to Roanoke Island from Kitty Hawk. Well, he hoped that he could.
“It’s tomorrow morning at eight forty.” the clerk said.
“You don’t have anything today?” Le Fay wanted to get out of there.
“No. takes it or leave it.”
“I’ll take it.” he had to get out of there. He had to get to Roanoke Island. He paid for the ticket. Then he went and found a hotel – but one different to the one in which he had stayed the other couple of nights. He stayed in the room all day, eating what little food he had on him. But there was no way that he was leaving his possessions alone. Not until he was safely out of New York.
He had another restless night, with another nightmare. But this time it was not a cyclops who pursued him, but a resurrected Gideon de Ville.