Roanoke: Chapter Six
“I’ll need somewhere to stay.” le Fay said to himself. He did not know how long he would be here. It might only take him a day to solve the mystery. After all, it had not taken him a long time to solve the mystery of the missing monolith. But, realistically, he knew that it might take him a lot longer than that. He might be here for months. It was now more than three hundred years since the settlers at Roanoke had disappeared.
He supposed that other wizards must have tried to solve the mystery in the past. Obviously they had failed, as nobody knew what had happened to the Lost Colony. But he would succeed where they had failed. He was sure of that. He knew things which nobody else did.
He looked around at the landscape around him. There really was only the village. It was there or nowhere. But he doubted that there would be any hotels here, either.
Le Fay, from his research of the island, knew that the village was called Manteo. It was at the north end of the island. Roanoke Island was about twelve miles long, and only three miles wide. Manteo was, at the moment, the only settlement of the island, and was of only a few hundred souls.
Le Fay knew the history of the island like the back of his hand. Some forty plus years ago, at the beginning of the American Civil War, the Confederacy had constructed three forts on the island. The Confederacy had not held those forts for long, though, as in 1862 a Union expeditionary force had successfully seized the forts. The Union had held the forts, and Roanoke Island, for the rest of the long war.
During the eighteen years of the war the Union had established a colony for freed slaves on Roanoke Island. That colony had lasted until 1879 when an Armistice had been signed between the North and the South. At the end of the war the colony had been disestablished by the south. Not that the Freedman’s Colony had been successful, anyway. The soil on Roanoke Island was very poor. After the war the colony had ended.
It was in 1879 that the South had taken down the three forts on the island, as well. That was when Manteo had been founded. It was the only settlement on the island, now. It was the one which le Fay was looking at.
Manteo was not really much to look at. But it was where he would have to stay while he was on Roanoke Island. The only alternative was to stay out in the open – and le Fay did not fancy that very much.
He picked up his cases and walked into Manteo, hoping to find somebody as hospitable as Bill Campbell had been in Kitty Hawk.
Le Fay saw a thin, lanky man walking along. The man was around forty years old, with medium brown hair.
“I say, may I have a word with you?” le Fay called out. The lanky man walked over to le Fay. He looked up and down at the English wizard, but didn’t say anything.
“I don’t suppose that there is any hotel on the island, is there?” le Fay asked.
“No.” the man said.
“I need to stay here for some time.” le Fay said. “Can you suggest anywhere where I might stay?”
“Well, not really, sir. We don’t have many people come here. There’s only a couple of hundred of us.”
“Could I stay with you?” le Fay asked. He was tired after getting up so early that morning, and he didn’t want to go around Manteo trying to find somewhere to say. Not that he would apparently have found anything, of course. “I can pay – I have some money with me.”
“You’re foreign.” the man said.
“I’m English.” The United Kingdom had been sympathetic towards the Confederacy during the American Civil War, although it had taken no part in the conflict. But being English did not harm le Fay, now that he was in the South.
“Why are you here?” the man asked.
“I’ve come to study the Lost Colony.” Edwyn le Fay said. He saw no point in lying to this individual. People on the island would probably find out what he was up to, anyway, when they saw him investigating the site of the Lost Colony.
“Why?” the man asked. There was not yet a lot of interest in what had been the Lost Colony of Roanoke. The man could not think of anybody else who had come to the island because of it. He knew the history of it, of course. Everybody on the island knew that there had been a colony which had disappeared, although not everybody knew all of the details.
“To try to solve the mystery, of course.” le Fay said.
The man shrugged. It was clear that he thought that le Fay did not have a chance of accomplishing that. There was a greater chance of the Confederacy electing a black President than the mystery of Roanoke Island being solved after so long.
“Could I stay with you?” le Fay repeated. He had to stay somewhere, and he would ask everybody on the island, if he had to. But he would prefer it if he did not have to go around from person to person in such a manner.
“If you pay for your keep.” the other man said, slowly. It was clear that he was not one hundred percent keen on the idea of some stranger staying with him. But he felt that it would be unwelcoming to refuse this strange Englishman.
“Yes, yes, of course I will pay for my keep.” said le Fay, hugely relieved. He did not mind paying for any food that he ate. Staying with his man would be a lot cheaper than staying in some hotel, anyway.
“Then you had better come with me and put your luggage at my house.”
The man’s name was Job Denton. Surprisingly – at least to le Fay – Denton was involved with wine production. But Roanoke Island had been involved in wine production for almost three hundred years. It was one of the first places in the New World that grapes were cultivated.
Le Fay put his suitcases in Denton’s house. Le Fay thought about trying to settle into the small but clean house. But, now that he was actually on Roanoke Island, and the site of the mystery only a short walk away from Manteo, he was keen to start his investigations.
He walked off to where the Lost Colony had been, using a map which he had copied of Roanoke Island. Le Fay told Denton that he would be back later. That was what he intended to do at the time. Our hapless wizard did not realise that things would not turn out that way. But wizards cannot see the future.
He found what he thought was the area where the colony had been. He was fairly sure that he was in the correct location. Well, he was as certain as he could be in the circumstances.
Le Fay got out his mythometer. He would see if he could detect any faint traces of Magick near where the Lost Colony had used to be. He was almost certain that he would find something. All that he needed was the barest trace. If he could find some form of Magick he would know where to place his devices. He would know where the doorway had been through which the Lost Colony had gone. Then he could go back, get the rest of his equipment, and see if he could somehow open the doorway. Then he would go through and rescue the descendants of the Lost Colony of Roanoke, bringing them back to the modern world. That was his plan, anyway.
He walked back and forth, twisting the dial on his mythometer. He wasn’t getting anything other than the normal very faint background Magickal radiation which permeated the entire world.
Perhaps he was dealing with some sort of Magick which he was unable to detect. That was always a possibility, if he was dealing with something odd. Mythometers were calibrated, when used with Detection Magick, to detect the various mystical forms common to Magick in the early twentieth century. But there were forms of Magick which had been lost or almost lost. This could be one of them.
It occurred to le Fay that he might be in the wrong place. Just because the colonists had all disappeared did not mean that the cause of the disappearance had been in the heart of the colony. It might have been elsewhere on the island.
Le Fay sighed, and let the spell of detection end. This was going to take him a lot of time, especially if he was going to have to check the entire island. The island was eight miles long and two miles wide. He might have to walk over every bit of ground looking for some clue as to what had happened.
There had been that carving of the word Croatan (or Croatoan – not all of the sources agreed on the exact spelling of the word). Le Fay got out his map of the island. He saw that there was a Croatan Sound to the west. But that had been the name of an Indian tribe, hadn’t it? The tribe was long gone. If any of the descendants of the tribe still lived then they certainly didn’t live in the area.
If there had been any survivors of the Lost Colony they would have been discovered, anyway, when the ship had returned following the Spanish Armada. There had been a search for the colonists, after all. But not one of them had been discovered. Nor had any bodies been found. If the colonists had been killed by some local American Indians then there would still have been bodies. Yet not one corpse had been found. the only explanation, as far as he was concerned, was that, willingly or unwillingly, the colonists had been transported to some other world.
There was the sound of a pebble being kicked. Edwyn le Fay looked up. There were two men standing there. It was the two men who had been on the steamship which had taken him to Kitty Hawk.