The Glastaig Stone: This short story started the whole thing

THE GLAISTIG STONE

 

Arthur ’Arty’ MacArthur, police inspector of the Highland town of Dun Roman, was at his desk, his elbows on the table one hand cupping his chin, he held the report in the other, intimidating it, interrogating it. When the door to his office opened and Sergeant Grey walked in. He was not your typical porridge oats image of a Scotsman, not muscular and lean. You could say he was the picture a Scottish Father Christmas with rosy red cheeks and a thick red beard his police uniform struggling to hold in his girth.

‘Inspector,’ the sergeant said to the man sitting behind the desk. ‘Dr Findlay wishes to see you at your earliest conveyance.’

‘Thank you, sergeant,’ MacArthur replied, he handed the offending paper to him and said. ‘What’s missing from this report?’

The sergeant took the report from his superior, read it and handed it back saying. ‘Young Lochay seems to have written everything down that was said by Detective Blaze while she was interviewing the Laird of Inchvulit after he found the body.’ His Highland lilt adding an unasked question, of, is anything wrong?

‘Do you no see man’ the inspector said as he slowly stood placing both hands flat on his desk. The sergeant shook his head in the negative. MacArthur did not shout but in a quiet voice asked a few questions.

‘Where’s the murder weapon? What was the murder weapon? Was Blaze too busy sucking up tae the Laird tae dea her job? And find the murder weapon?’

The sergeant looked back at the report he had in his hands, looking for the answer and replied.

‘I see what you mean sir, but I think that is why Dr. Findlay wishes to see you, sir.

‘Ok sergeant, I’ll go down and see the doctor. I want to see DC Blaze back in the office within the hour.’

‘Yes sir.’ The sergeant replied placing the report back onto the desk and leaving the room.

‘Good morning doctor, Sergeant Gray said you wished to see me?’ DI MacArthur said as he walked into the mortuary that is attached to the police station.

‘Yes, Arty, I think we have a problem with the body. I think you will need to inform Inverness about our victim?’

‘I already have, when Blaze and Lochay confirmed that a body was found at Inchvulit. Have you identified the body, or the type of knife used.’

Doctor Findlay, smiled, he was a small stocky fifty-five-year-old man with a kind face, gray hair receding so his bald forehead gleamed in the strong fluorescent mortuary lights replied.

‘I would be very surprised if you did find a weapon. Come over to the examination table with me and I will explain how our guest met his demise.’ The two men walked over to the stainless steel table, which held a white linen cloth covered body.

Dr. Findlay folded the cloth down to the body’s waist to reveal a male of approximately thirty years of age, with various mystic tattoos on his torso. The body was very pale with a hole approximately two inches in circumference in the center of his chest.

‘If you would like to come closer Arty’, Dr. Findlay politely asked his guest then carried on, ‘you can see it’s a circular wound. The interesting thing is this; it is a curved and tapering wound. It has punched through the sternum; slicing the inferior vena cava and the tip of this weapon has split the spine at the eighth thoracic vertebrae. Before you ask, it was not a medieval pike, flail or halberd that caused the wound.’

‘How do you know that doctor?’

‘There is no metal or rust deposits in the wound, inspector.’

‘Well Doctor Findlay what type of weapon would cause that type of wound?’ Arty MacArthur asked the doctor in a sarcastic voice.

‘If I had to make an educated guess,’ the doctor paused, ‘a talon would be the best that I can come up with.’

‘A talon, you don’t mean, like, an Eagles talon?’ DI MacArthur looked closer at the wound on the body’s chest again noting the tattoos. ‘What do you make of the tattoos?’

‘They are Celtic in origin is the best I can tell you for now. I have informed the officer in charge of section M at Fettes in Edinburgh. He knew your predecessor and will be here in the morning to help with the investigation.’

The next morning, a sleek silver, Jensen 541S, car pulled into the car park of the police station. The tall slim dark hair man of indeterminate age got out of the car and walked into the police station, up to the constable behind the desk.

‘My name is Chief Inspector Cade Inver-Carron and I wish to see DI MacArthur please?’

‘Yes, sir,’ constable Langholme replied picking up the phone and enquiring from DC Blaze the whereabouts of his Inspector. ‘The Inspector is with Dr. Findlay in his office. I’ll show you the way.’

‘No need constable I know the way to the good doctor’s office.’ Cade walked to the left of the reception desk and entered the corridor that led to the office, the doctor used when engaged in consulting with the police. He stopped at a frosted glass door knocked once and walked in.

‘Ah Casebook, it’s been years since we last met.’ Cade said, to the small man behind the desk extending his hand. Findlay got up from his desk and shook the hand saying.

‘Cade, yes it has been years, let me introduce you to my colleague DI MacArthur.’ The two men shook hands with Cade saying.

‘Your old Dixon’s replacement?’

‘Yes, I was transferred in from Inverness when he retired.’

‘Congratulations Detective Inspector, Conner has the inspector been informed of the Glaistaig Stone, at the mouth of the Green Glen?’

‘Sorry Cade but Inverness has not allowed me to say a thing, since the Green Glen has been so quiet of late, and Callum Longram was dealt with.

DI MacArthur was looking at the two men when he interrupted.

‘Excuse me Inspector, Callum Longram; the Green Glen?’ He asked in a confused voice.

‘Tell me Inspector MacArthur have you heard of Department M at Fettes?’

‘Yes, but I don’t know what it does.’

‘I must ask you to be very discreet with this information. In fact, I had to ask permission from the Scottish Secretary to allow me to give you this information. Now up till the 1950’s, the department was known as SLAM, which stood for, Scottish Lore and Myths. That Lore was used by Stevenson and Burns as the inspiration for their stories and poems. There are certain artifacts in Scotland that act as a conduit between this reality and that of the mythical world. There is one such doorway at the head of the Inchvulit Glen, known locally as, the Glaistig Stone. This doorway opens into the Green Glen. The body you found was that of Jamie McDonald a notorious artifact thief.’

‘Are you telling me that this man was killed by a myth?’ MacArthur said incredulously.

‘No inspector he was killed by a Heather Lion.’

‘What!’

‘A Heather Lion, and before you say you have never heard of one, or seen one, you have. It is on our flag. The Heather Lion is stylized on the Royal Standard of Scotland or the Lion Rampant.’

‘You’ll be telling me Nessie is also real?’ MacArthur said incredulously.

‘She is. She is known as Mother of the deep.’

MacArthur stood with his mouth open after a pause he said. ‘McDonald was killed by a mythical animal that has talons seven inches long and strong enough to punch a hole in a man’s chest?’

‘I’m afraid so inspector,’ Cade replied. ‘We need to visit the King of the Green Glen and see what he has to say.’

‘I need a whiskey.’ MacArthur said to no one in particular.

The next morning, with mist lying low on the ground, a car pulled up to a dark grey lichen, covered standing stone. The two men got out of the car and the taller of the two walked up to the stone and touched it. He said into the mist.

‘I wish to speak to King Thon.’ The tall thin man said into the void. The silence lasted for a few seconds. Then a voice replied from the void.

‘He tried to steal the Quaich of Moniaive from the King’s daughter.’ The thickly accented Highland bodiless voice replied.

‘Did you have to kill him?’ Cade asked.

‘He was armed with a knife and injured the keeper of Moniaive, Bardine; the keeper’s guardian defended her and struck the thief.’

‘Why did you leave the body at the door of the Lairds house?’

‘Over the centuries his family have been kind to the Glen and we knew they would call you, Fiscal.’

‘Is the keeper well?’

‘She is, and the King thanks you for your concern.’ The voice drifted away, Cade took his hand of the stone and regarded his companion.

‘Welcome to department M, Detective Inspector MacArthur. The Crown and Government would appreciate your discretion on the Glaistig Stone.’

DI MacArthur looked at his surroundings, noting the dark stone highlighted in the morning mist. The Glen ghosting into the distance, he felt a shiver crawl up his spine at the remembered voice from the void, he turned to his companion and said.

‘They called you Fiscal?’

‘It is the word they use for the Law.’ Cade clapped a hand on MacArthur’s shoulder and said.

‘Come I’ll buy you a whiskey it won’t seem so bad after a good malt.’

The two men walked back to the car, got in, then the car roared off into the mist.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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