Blood of a Nation
“The first thing you must realize, is that you are already dead.” Brian McLean was willing to give his life for the cause of Liberty at the Battle of Concord Bridge—but he’s already done that, and now finds himself in the afterlife. So what’s next?
“The first thing you must realize, is that you are already dead.”
Brian McLean was willing to give his life for the cause of Liberty. He had no way of knowing that when he fell at the Battle of Concord Bridge, it was a beginning rather than an ending. Taken from the war, and his life, McLean learns of the Night Walkers, strange beings that drink blood to live and are forever banished from the sun. Now he needs to find a way to adapt to a strange new world of magic, supernatural abilities, and creatures he never imagined.
Under the mentorship of Paul Stintson, Brian tries to learn as much as he about his new life, his powers, and his limits. Every night, it seems he learns a new secret as he struggles to adapt to his new life and find a way to use his abilities to defeat the British and free his struggling country.
In Which Great Changes Occur
I am told birth is a painful process. Being male, I am excluded from first-hand knowledge. Never having fathered a child while mortal, I do not even possess the second-hand knowledge that some men seem to feel makes them understand what it’s like. What I can say, with absolute authority, is that re-birth from mortal to vampire is an experience in pain and transformation I would happily never again approach, even if I am given twice the number of centuries I have seen, or longer.
Of course, I am also told mine was a special case. From what I have pieced together from conversations with medical experts with somewhat more advanced techniques and knowledge than were available at the time of my death, coupled with speaking with some who were around at the time, I’ve been able to assemble a probable catalogue of my injuries. They were… substantial.
What seems most likely to have occurred is that the ball broke a few of my ribs and sent splinters of bone into my lungs. The blood collected, and slowly filled them, thus my inability to breathe. When I slid a bit towards the river, the slope I came to rest on was sufficient of an incline to slow the process, and prolong my life enough for me to be found. But forgive me, I interrupt my own tale. I am told I do such things. A few have suggested I am overly fond of the sound of my own voice. Having survived into the era of recording such things, I can assure you I am not. It sounds wrong to me, what I am told is my voice. Again, I digress. I return you to my tale.
The pain of being lifted was excruciating. The journey to wherever they were going was a study in agony. What passed next was a period of haze and confusion, waking, passing out, strange figures making odd pronouncements, a piercing new pain in his chest, easier breathing, and more unconsciousness. Then sometime later there was a sharp pain in his neck, a desperate thirst, a drink of some kind of warm liquid that tasted better than anything he’d ever imagined, and blissful oblivion.
Time passed. There was a slow, hazy return to awareness. The blurriness subsided and the room seemed to be alive with detail. He was lying on a bed, finer than any he had ever seen. His enjoyment of this luxury was somewhat lessened when he realized that he had manacles on his wrists and was chained in place, with similar arrangements at his feet. The walls were painted a mild yellow, several heavy curtains covering what he presumed were windows. There was some kind of a carpet on the floor—unheard of, or at least unseen, riches! There was a candle burning in a holder that was of some kind of metal, he couldn’t be sure from his vantage point but thought it was brass. Oddly, there was a long, sharpened wooden stake on the mantle place next to the candle, and a hatchet that gleamed wickedly sharp in the flickering light. There was a large, comfortable-looking chair in the corner, opposite the door. All in all, the place spoke of money used well to make a pleasing sight to the eyes and decent comfort for the body if the bed was anything to judge by—chains exempted. The small candle seemed to be producing a strange amount of illumination, allowing him to take in an incredible amount of detail in what should be not a lot of light. He strained once against the chains, with no success as he expected. He lay back on the bed, staring at the ceiling, taking in the high-quality woodworking, partially in appreciation, partially because he had nothing else to do, and partially to try and distract himself from a deep thirst, as bad as what he had felt lying on the field after being shot.
He was startled when the door opened (some kind of cut glass doorknobs, he noted in a corner of his mind). A woman stood there regarding him, dressed in what he thought was the clothing of a maidservant. “You are awake now?” she asked in a thick accent—French, he thought.
“I am, yes, but I’d very much like to know…” he stopped in mid-sentence as she left, closing the door behind him. He went over what he’d seen of her to keep his mind occupied, the chains and his situation starting to fray his nerves. She seemed to be of average height, as best he could guess from his reclined position. She looked to be in fine shape, not that her clothing was in anyway scandalous or revealing. She had fine dark hair which had shone in the light of the sole candle, and light blue eyes. He stopped a moment, puzzled. He’d always liked to think of himself as sharp in the eyes and mind, but that seemed a lot of information for a very abrupt meeting, and how had he picked out her eye color in this light from across the room?
The door opened a second time. At least two people came in, but one of them drew all attention to himself simply by his presence. He crossed to the chair, regarded the man on the bed a moment, then sat. He was wearing fine clothing, a light tan colored shirt with a grey vest over it, some kind of red neck scarf, dark pants that ended in well-tooled black leather boots that shone, metal buckles sparkling. His light grey eyes fixed on his captive’s face, and the questions that were fighting each other to escape first died on the prisoner’s lips. He held a goblet made of some kind of smooth grey stone, it appeared, with the hint of spiced wine wafting from it. The prisoner felt his thirst leap in his throat at the smell.
After a moment, he spoke. “You have questions. This is natural. They are not important right now. You are here to answer mine. Do you understand me?” The voice was low and powerful, rich, sounding of the upper classes. The man on the bed managed a nod. “An excellent beginning then. Tell me, boy, what is your name?”
“Brian McLean, sir.” The words came easily, his voice not cracking, none of his unease and even near-awe at the man showing through. He had things he dearly wished to know, but somehow felt content to wait for the next question.
“Master McLean then. Do you know where you are?” the man awaited an answer, pausing to sip from his drink.
“I…” he paused, wanting to impress this man, or at least not embarrass himself. “A fine house, which I would presume to be yours. In what township; I do not know.” He wanted to ask for a drink, but somehow, even the deep thirst did not matter, simply answering the man’s questions was the focus of his world.
“A good answer boy. We seem to have a budding wit here, do we not, Bernardo?” the man turned to his companion, who had remained standing. Feeling somewhat freer to move without the weight of that attention upon him, McLean looked at Bernardo. He was a short man, probably Spanish or possibly a Moor—he’d read of such things in Shakespeare. Bernardo had somewhat wild hair held back in a tail, a rough linen shirt that was crossed by a thick leather belt, leggings that might have been deer hide, and tall leather boots like some of the savages wore. McLean couldn’t recall the name of such boots, although he knew he had heard it. Bernardo’s belt showed a large knife with a bone handle, a small hatchet that also bore a special name, and even a pistol that looked to be of fine work, if well used. A powder horn hung from his shoulder by a leather strap across his thick chest, and a small pouch bulged with what McLean believed would be shot for the pistol. Bernardo did not answer the man’s question, his eyes never leaving McLean, and an aura of silent menace coming off him in waves. This was a man who was clearly a warrior, as McLean had wished to be, and failed. Failed? He suddenly recalled the shattering pain and looked down at his chest, hands trying to search himself for injury and coming to the end of the chains in a loud rattle.
“Peace, boy, you are well enough,” the man said. McLean instantly relaxed. He was puzzled, but no longer panicked. “Can you read, Master McLean?” he asked.
McLean smiled, feeling more at ease than he had since awakening in this strange room. “Oh, yes sir. I read whatever I can, whenever I get the opportunity. Father says–” his voice broke off again, a troubled look on his brow.
“Your father says what, lad?” the man asked, a bit more kindly now.
“That ‘All that book learnin’ won’t help ye plant a field, clear a farm, fell a tree, or get a wife,’” McLean said, his voice shifting to a much less cultured sounding, rough-hewn timbre. The man raised an eyebrow again.
“A mimic as well. Do you not find it disrespectful to speak that way, aping your father’s voice?”
“No, sir,” McLean said in his own tones again. “I’ve done it before him, he laughed, as did all at the meal.”
“Very well. You enjoy books, and have something of a mind under that hair of yours. Do you know why you’re here, or what’s happened to you?” the questions seemed to carry a world of hidden meaning that McLean was aware of, but not able to identify.
McLean considered a moment. He felt clever words would not serve him here. “I do not, sir. Clearly you want something of me, and think I may not agree.” He held up his hand as far as he could, showing the manacle to illustrate his point.
“Well spoken, lad. I do indeed desire something from you. I recently lost my… apprentice. I prefer to take my time selecting such, as there is a long and difficult process involved, but circumstances are proceeding swiftly at present. So you may consider this an examination for your suitability.”
McLean considered again, his mind racing. “What would I have to do, sir?” The prospect of being in this man’s hire, someone who seemed to actually appreciate the written word, thrilled him. He clearly had wealth, he probably even had several books of his own.
“There would be a great deal for you to learn. I require complete dedication from those in my employ. Your life is mine already, which you have not realized yet. I would hold complete sway over you, and all you know would change dramatically.” Doubt appeared on his face for the first time, or at least uncertainty. “I am not certain you could manage all that would be asked of you.”
“I could sir, I’m certain of it.” McLean answered. He wasn’t sure what he had meant about his life was his, but he could adapt to it, he was sure. The man regarded him for what seemed like an endless moment.
“Perhaps you will.” He said finally. “The first thing you must realize, Master McLean, is that you are already dead.”
In Which An Interview Concludes
“I do not speak metaphorically, nor am I being dramatic. You died. I restored you to a semblance of life. Such is my power. It may become yours as well, given time.” The man paused, seeing the fear, confusion, denial building in McLean, and holding up his hand. “I do not have the time for sputterings about things that cannot be, or being a messenger from Satan. Lay there and think for a few moments. Can you feel or hear your heart beat? Have you really drawn a breath since you awoke, aside from the need to when speaking? Are you not seeing and hearing better than you should be? The candle is largely for your own spirits, you can see well enough without it, barring being in a cave or the night of a new moon. Collect yourself, apply your mind, and tell me if I speak untruth.” The man made a gesture, and his fierce-looking companion crossed to the candle and snuffed it out.
McLean’s mind was racing. It wasn’t so! It wasn’t! He was no demon-cursed child of the night. He was the same he’d always been. ‘Then how did you survive that musket shot to your chest?’ a part of his brain asked. ‘How are you seeing so well in such darkness? And at this moment, you are not speaking… and your chest is not rising and falling.’ A sob escaped McLean’s throat against his will, almost without his being aware of it. Mindless, choking fear raced through him, echoes of Pastor Wilson’s sermons about the ways of the devil sounding in his head. After a time, what saved him, incredibly, was what almost sounded like his father’s voice, a point of calm in the raging sea of fear. ‘Whatever this is, boy, y’re in it now. See what it is, and if you can escape it if you wish, and turn a profit while y’re at it.’ Drawing a deep shuddering breath (and realizing he was forcing himself to do so almost shattering his fragile self-control once more), he opened his eyes, once again regarding the man in the chair.
”Finished?” the seated figure asked, not unkindly, but not warmly either. McLean nodded once, not quite trusting his voice yet. “Very well. You may ask a few questions of me. And no, as yet you will not be unchained or set free, if those be among them.”
“What are you?” McLean asked before thinking. The question hung there a moment, long enough for him to hope he hadn’t offended his host, who clearly had him at a serious disadvantage.
“WE, child, are the living dead. We do not breathe, we have no heartbeat, yet we think, feel, walk, and talk. We do not eat, and drink the blood of those who yet live to sustain us.” McLean felt panic clutch at him again for a moment, and fought it back with all his strength. Mindless fear would not aid him now. He could gibber like a mad thing later, if he persevered long enough to see that seemingly far distant future.
“May I ask your name, sir?” McLean was struggling desperately to come to terms with everything that was happening, and he sought refuge in something as mundane as social niceties. The man seemed pleased at the question, and nodded his head as if ticking off a mark on some imagined lesson plan.
“I was wondering if you would come around to that. You may call me Paul Stintson.” He took note of the phrasing, curious, but let it pass.
“What is it you want of me, Mr. Stintson?” McLean asked, not sure he truly wished to hear the answer.
“If we come to mutually acceptable terms, you would learn from myself and my household. You will be taught the ways of our kind, as well as the various areas of education in which you may be found lacking. In exchange for your obedience for a span of years, I will show you power you cannot currently truly conceive of, polish you as a young gentleman, and introduce you into the corridors of influence and wealth. Do you find that agreeable, Master McLean?” Stintson peered at him, his eyes somehow seeming intensely focused, looking for something McLean could not guess at.
“I do, Mr. Stintson.” He answered. A part of him was sure that he should spend more time in reflection before agreeing to such a weighty bargain. Reasonable consideration took a back seat to the promises he was hearing. While he was not disinterested in the wealth and power Stintson had mentioned, he succumbed to a more appealing lure. The opportunity to actually learn, and study, and presumably have access to books, won him over in what would have been the beat of his heart, if it had still done such things.
In Which Much Is Learned
Such was my introduction to the life of the vampire. Looking back now, I do not think I can adequately express the array of emotions that surged through me in that first interview: terror, both for my immediate self and my soul, courtesy of the local church; utter disbelief; wonder, even. There are more things in Heaven and Earth than are dreamt of in our mortal philosophies indeed.
There will no doubt be some who wonder why Stintson did not name us for what we were. Bear in mind, reader, that at that time Abraham Stoker’s tale of the dread prince Dracula was long in the future, and the very word “vampire” was not commonly known. The tales of such creatures were largely restricted to Eastern Europe, and to the Gypsies, and most of the western world listened to neither people. I was soon to learn so many things about the regular world at large and the hidden, occult sphere I had just entered. But again, I go ahead of myself.
McLean’s agreement still hung in the air in the room. Stintson regarded him for a moment, his expression unreadable. He rose as if to leave, and then suddenly crossed to the bed, leaning over McLean, fixing his eyes on those of his young captive. “Tell me, boy: why did you agree?”
McLean felt a peculiar sensation overtake him. All the light seemed to somehow drain from the room, so that only the man’s eyes were visible. There was a feeling of great weight pressing on him, but somehow on his mind, not his body. The answer came easily to his lips, the truth slipping out with no thought or effort, “I want to learn. I want to know more than a field and a plow and a horse’s arse. I don’t want my life to be bound by the three surrounding townships, and possibly, if I am truly fortunate, a trip to Boston once or even twice,” his strange compulsion to speak suddenly ceased as Stintson gave a short bark of laughter.
“Enough, Master McLean. You may do much better than I thought originally. You will spend the rest of the night and the day here. Tomorrow night you shall begin your lessons.” Stintson turned and began moving towards the door. He stopped, and walked back to McLean, holding the goblet to his lips. McLean guzzled the liquid, which tasted better than anything he had ever drunk or eaten before. Stintson nodded once and turned once more, moving towards the door.
“Please, sir,” McLean’s voice came from behind him, causing him to pause. “If I may sir—if I’m to spend the night here, would it be possible… if you have any to spare…”
“Out with it boy,” Stintson said, somewhat exasperated, expecting some plea for freedom, or wine, or something of the sort.
“Do you have a book, sir? Something to pass the time until my lessons are to begin? Perhaps something to start me on before them?” McLean’s voice was steady, but his mind was less so. Another night chained here with nothing to occupy him would drive him over the precipice into full on insanity.
Stintson looked back at the young man, a rare look of surprise passing swiftly across his face. Without a word, he crossed to the door and departed, the silent Bernardo following and closing the door. From the bed, McLean could easily hear the key turn in the lock. He lowered his head, dejected. Perhaps he’d seemed greedy. He barely managed to contain a sigh as he resigned himself to examining the woodwork on the ceiling. He’d just come to the dual conclusions that this house, if the room was any indication, was made with great care, and that the servants needed to be more thorough in dusting the corners when the woman he had seen before returned, bearing a leather-bound volume and an iron key. Wordlessly, she placed the book in his hand, unfastened the manacle on his right wrist, and departed, not acknowledging his thanks.
Eagerly, he turned to the tome, and saw something that sent his spirits leaping skyward. McLean spent some time happily reading A Midsummer Night’s Dream, one of the Bard’s plays he hadn’t yet actually come across. The strange events thrusting the characters out of their own world into a strange one inhabited by eerie creatures resonated with him particularly strongly this night. As he reached the final scenes, a great heaviness seemed to settle on his limbs. Barely managing to focus on the words, he read Puck’s parting to the audience, “If we shadows have offended, Think but this, and all is mended, That you have but slumbered here, While these visions did appear.” With the greatest of effort, he managed to close the cover of the book and then gave in to the rushing oblivion that was pulling his mind down…
He blinked, and looked around the room. He had a vague feeling that something had happened, but was unsure as to what it was. Glancing around, he noted that the candle was full, and the scent of a newly lit wick was in the air. How had someone entered without his noticing? He had been enraptured in the play, certainly, but not to that extent. Had he? And the strange feeling of weakness and weight had lasted only a moment or two, not long enough to allow someone to enter, light the taper, and then leave, surely? He regarded the elaborate candle stick again, puzzled.
His musings were interrupted when the door opened, and once again the woman dressed as a house servant entered. “Good evening, M’sieu.” she said briskly, moving to unfasten his remaining manacle. “You start your lessons tonight. Attend, please.” She turned and went back to the door.
“Wait, wait. What am I to learn? Who is teaching me?” then taken aback by his dawning realization of his own poor manners, “I am sorry, what is your name?”
She somehow managed to convey impatience with no overt motions or expressions. “Jacinthe, M’sieu. If you please, your other questions may be answered if you will simply accompany me.” Interpreting her stance as that of being unlikely to yield, he got to his feet and trailed after her. They walked down a corridor that was at least as well-appointed as the chamber he had recently occupied, with an equally high level of craftmanship in the woodworking. Suddenly, his attention snapped back to the maid. He looked at her carefully as they walked. He was by no means an expert at women’s fashions, but he was almost positive that she was wearing a different dress than she had before. He was puzzled that she had taken time to change, but was pleased to note that this man who was taking him as an apprentice was well enough off that he had his own copies of Shakespeare and that his servant had at least two dresses.
They arrived at another door, and she gestured at it. McLean walked into the room beyond, and heard the door shut, followed by the expected sound of a key turning in the lock. He looked around and saw a plainly furnished room with a solid wooden desk. Behind the desk was a thin man with a pair of spectacles perched low on his nose. He tilted his head back and looked at McLean. “Seat yourself, and we may begin.” he said, his voice thin and nasal. “My name is Castle, and Mr. Stintson has directed me to educate you. I prefer not to waste my time, so I propose you ask the various questions no doubt buzzing like so many bees in your head.” He brushed back a lock of light brown hair, eyes squinting through the precariously balanced lenses.
“You’re from England, sir?” McLean asked.
His eyebrows rose a bit. “What an odd first question. Yes, I lived for a great many years in Sussex before I came to the Colonies here.”
McLean saw that his attempt at politeness had been wasted, so he plunged into some of the issues concerning him. “Mr. Stinson said some things I do not think I quite grasped. Some great change has been worked on me?”
Castle looked a bit more serious. “Yes. You have been made one of the Night Walkers.” He held up his hand to forestall the questions obvious on McLean’s face. “What precisely that is seems to vary some from subject to subject. We do not live as other beings do. We do not draw breath, except for employing it for such things as speech. Our hearts do not beat. The sustenance of others is at best of no earthly use to us, and in some cases so unpalatable as to be repugnant. We drink the blood of the living to gain our nourishment. I see the disbelief in your face, but ask yourself, are your senses not keener than a matter of days ago? For that matter, consider the significant injury you suffered. It should have been mortal, should it not? And yet here you are, in no way injured.” He paused, allowing McLean to reflect, the similarities to what had passed between himself and Mr. Stintson the previous evening impressing themselves upon the young man.
“Are we some kind of creatures of the devil, to live without breath and feast upon blood?” McLean couldn’t help himself, such concerns were drilled home every time he set foot in the church of his parents, the Presbyterian minister seeing Satan behind each rock and blade of grass.
“No more so than anything else, lad. We are predators, true, but we do not need to kill what we feed on, and it is simply our nature. Like a predator, you will find you are stronger, faster, and tougher than our more mundane brethren. Various other abilities may manifest in you as time passes, but that seems to be a matter of individual temperament.”
“What do you mean, sir?” McLean did not bother to hide his confusion. If he was to be instructed, he would take advantage of the occasion to find out whatever he thought profitable to know.
“Some of our kind develop vast, Herculean strength. Others converse with the animals. Some can alter their very form to that of the beasts. I believe you have felt the intensity of Mr. Stintson’s presence already?” McLean nodded. “There is no way to predict what may come to you, if anything. Not all Night Walkers manifest such abilities, and which you may in time display is unknowable.”
“Will I not tend to favor those of Mr. Stinson, if he… I do not know the correct term. Created me?” McLean asked.
“Have you ever known a family wherein one child could sing like an angel, and another unable to produce an intelligible note?” Again, McLean agreed wordlessly. “It is much like that with ourselves. Time will tell, as is said. Speaking of time, that is another great benefit conveyed upon us—we do not age as others do. Barring misadventure, you are, for all practical purposes, immortal.”
“We do not age? And we are swifter and stronger than others? Then what sort of ‘misadventure’ would make an end to us?” McLean was starting to form the opinion that this transformation was not all to the bad.
“Oh, do not confuse immortality with indestructibility. We are spared many cares of the mortal world, but we have our own concerns. Sunlight is fatal, causing a fire to rage in our flesh that consumes us. Fire itself can destroy us, rendering us down to ashes like so much kindling. Decapitation inevitably has meant destruction. A shaft of wood stabbed into us will render the portion so pierced immobile. If that wood is driven through the heart, we may not move at all. Does that answer your question?”
“Yes, I believe so.” Perhaps there were many more drawbacks than he had thought, McLean mused.
“Have you other queries?” Castle looked at him again quizzically.
“I had the sensation that something occurred without my knowing of it. I felt a heaviness on my limbs for a moment, and then it passed, but things I cannot account for changed. Do you know what would cause that?” McLean tried to recall if there was anything else he felt needed clarification from his interview with the enigmatic Stintson.
“That was the daylight, young man. For all fledgling Night Walkers, and even some who are older than that, the day forces a slumber deeper than anything you would have experienced before. You may even still think this is the same night as your meeting with Mr. Stintson? It is the night following—a day has passed that you are unaware of. It is a very disconcerting sensation until one grows accustomed to it.” Castle removed the spectacles and polished them on his sleeve. “What else do you desire to know?”
McLean felt his mind whirling under the deluge of new information. He struggled to compose himself for a moment, and then went on: “Mr. Stintson made reference to a previous apprentice he had lost. What became of him? Why was I chosen with such haste? And for that matter, why was I chosen at all? Did he know of me before all this transpired?” McLean was starting to realize how much he did not know about his own circumstances, and the ignorance troubled him.
Castle regarded him with a difficult to decipher expression for a moment. “You may not care for the answers to these questions. Are you certain you wish to proceed?”
“If I am to survive in this new life I find myself in, I will need to know what has caused my predecessor to come to grief so I do not meet the same fate.” McLean returned his gaze. “I need to know this.”
“Very well, Master McLean. Mr. Stintson has had apprentices in the past, and had what one could charitably call a wide range of results from his efforts. He looks upon them as a reflection of himself in some ways, and accordingly takes some measure of care in their selection. He was especially pleased with his latest effort. Mr. Stintson labored long and hard, and selected Martin Sarban as his newest protégé.
“Master Sarban had a fine education, went to some of the finest schools, and had a first rate intellect as well—those things not always going together. His family was of the upper classes, and he had extensive connections. He was Changed, came through it intact, learned well what he needed to, and was set to become a very impressive figure.” Castle paused here a moment.
“What happened to him?” McLean asked, trying to imagine what could have happened to such a paragon as was being described.
“As you are aware, there has been significant unrest between His Majesty’s Government and a great many of the colonials lately. Occasionally, they have received information about suspected caches of weapons or ammunition, which is, I believe, what led to your own recent difficulty?” Castle tilted his head back a bit and, peered through his lenses again at McLean, who was beginning to find this particular habit annoying.
“Yes, that is why we were there, to prevent them taking our weapons, which we have every right to…” Castle held up his hand, interrupting him.
“Please, Master McLean, this is not the time for political discussion. At any rate, one of the officers of the Royal Army, a Captain Gabriel Wright, was informed of a vast store of shot and powder. He took a detachment of men and attempted to search the house that was specified. What became truly unfortunate was that this was the house Master Sarban was staying in, and that it was fairly close to noon when this occurred. The surviving men tell of opening a large crate, discovering a corpse inside, and then a fire somehow igniting, which caught some of the furnishings, and eventually reached the sought-after gunpowder. It was an impressive scene of destruction, I am told.”
McLean thought, trying to piece together what he had learned. “Sarban was exposed to the sunlight, burst into flame as you’ve described, and that caught the house afire?”
“That is what seems most likely, yes. What is more disturbing, to myself at least, is who gave such information to the British Army? And was it the same person that placed those stores in Master Sarban’s home? Even if he had sympathies with the colonials, and I never heard him say that he did, he was far too intelligent to keep such material in the place he rested in during the day.” McLean frowned, pondering this new information, as Castle continued “It would appear that Master Sarban, or Mr. Stintson, or all of us, have a somewhat devious enemy.”