Journal Entry: Countless Stones. Part I
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Countless Stones. Part I

Countless stones is a structure located in the North West England. It's a stone circle that has countless number of stones. No matter how hard you try, you will always fail to count how many stones is in that structure. Because of its unusual powers, the DTC started the investigation of the Countless stones.

I was at London's office, doing some paperwork. It was nine in the morning and my boss hasn't arrived yet, so I had some time to clean his desk, which was always a mess. By around 6 o'clock in the evening, London finally came to work. Frankly, I didn't worry about him - my boss often skipped the work days, so I was used to it. In his hand he was holding two tickets. He put them on my table.

"Miss Wolff, we're going on a journey", he said confidently, while trying to catch his breath. "Get your things packed, we're leaving this evening".

"What law did you break this time?", I asked jokingly, but London didn't seem to appreciate my humour. He went upstairs to his office and I heard him opening and closing cupboards. I took one of the ticket and looked at it. It said:

London and Northwest Railway Company
DEPARTURE: 12th of September, 21:30
ARRIVAL: 13th of September, 08:00
TICKET NUMBER: 09590782-3

I tried to remember what was so special about Penrith. My boss was born in London, I know that for sure. Maybe one of his parent was from Penrith? Unlikely, since he never knew his parents. I went upstairs to ask him personally. When London opened the door, I saw that he was holding a big suitcase.

"Why aren't you packing Miss Wolff?", London asked excitedly. He went past me downstairs and started to put everything from the shelves into the suitcase.
"Our train leaves in about three hours, we still have some times. In any case, why Penrith? What's so special about it?", I asked, trying not to bump into my boss, who was walking chaotically from one end of the room to another.
"There's nothing special about Penrith, it's just a small little town no one is ever interested", London answered while trying to fit a large book into an already full suitcase. "The reason we're going there", he continued, "Is that it's the closest station to Swinside".
"Swinside?", I asked, "What's that?".
"Miss Wolff, when I hired you, I hoped that you would be more literate", London replied mockingly, "Swinside is a stone circle, which is in itself is interesting. What makes it even more fascinating, is that it has an uncountable number of stones".
"What do you mean uncountable number of stones?", I asked with interest.
"By that I mean that you cannot count the number of stones", London answered as he was packing the last book into the suitcase. When he finally closed it, which took him some tries, he gave it to me.
"Hold this", said London and went upstairs. The suitcase was ridiculously heavy and I had to put it on the table before I got crushed by its weight. When London came back holding a magnifying glass, I said to him that I needed to go to my flat to get ready for the journey. In response I just nodded, going past me and picking up even more books. I didn't understand why London needed so many books for a few days travel.

When I got home I found my old suitcase and put some clothes, a few pencils and a notebook and some matches. I also thought about taking a book so I won't be bored on the train. but decided not to, since London was taking an entire library with him. After that, I went back to the office, which was a complete mess. Books an papers were lying on the floor. It seems like London was looking for something. I walked up to him, trying not to step on anything. When he heard my steps, London turned around and looked at me.

"Ah, Miss Wolff. You're already back?", he asked while looking for something on the floor with his hands. He looked absolutely ridiculous.
"Have you last your invisible glasses?", I joked. I was on a roll that day, but my boss didn't appreciate that joke either. London finally found something, which was a glass lens. He quickly put it in his coat.
"No,", London answered shortly. He closed his suitcase and put on his hat, which, by the way, always looked horrible no matter the angle. "Let's go Miss Wolff", he said joyfully. It seemed like my boss absolutely loved travelling on trains.
"Already? We still have over two hours!", I replied with confusion, but he ignored me and went out of the building. I quickly followed him, leaving the mess London made to Mister G. When I went out the door, London was already getting into a carriage. I ran up to it and got in too.
"What's the hurry?", I asked catching my breath. "What are we going to do on the train station for two hours?".
"Just wait and see Miss Wolff", London answered mysteriously.

We arrived railway station in around half an hour. It wasn't busy - at this time of the year only a few travel. On one of the seats was sitting an old man, who was reading a newspaper. He was wearing a grey coat and a dark trousers. His head had no hair and was very shiny. Opposite him there was a woman, about London's age, who was wearing a bright, scarlet coat and had a small purse in her hand.

London went through the entire train station and stepped onto the platform. I caught up with him. It was cold outside, so I tightened my scarf.

"Are you planning on standing here for two hours?", I asked him.
"Excuse me?", he replied with a question. I could hear that his voice was full of confusion.
"Our train leaves at 9:30 p.m.! Right now is 19:02 o'clock in the evening", I said with a little bit of anger. I saw that London thought for a moment and then answered me.
"Yes", was all he said. I couldn't believe that my boss would rather wait for two hours in the cold, than do anything else. I went back inside and sat near the woman in the red. She was reading a book, which title I couldn't see. The woman noticed me and put the book down.

"Hello, my name is Ruth, nice to meet you", she greeted me in a friendly voice.
"Nice to meet you too!", I replied, "My name is Katherine Wolff. What are you reading?".
"Oh, I'm reading…", she hesitated for a bit, "Physics!".
"Physics?", I asked with suspicion. I saw how Ruth got a bit nervous and then put away the book in her purse.
"I'm sorry, I have to go out for a moment", said the woman and quickly went to the restroom. I felt a little bad for scaring her away, maybe I was a bit too pushy? The gentlemen was still reading the newspaper, so I doubted he would want to talk with me. I sat there for a few minutes and then got bored, so I decided to walk around the station.

There was frost on the windows. Despite it being only the middle of September, the temperature has already dropped dramatically and I noticed how a lot of people started talking about this sudden change in the weather. The experts say that this is just an unusual cold that will eventually pass, others say that it's the beginning of a new ice age. One day I asked London what his opinion on it and he answered it with a very strange statement: "Looks like the Snow Wasset woke up early this year". In any case, I believe London has nothing to do with this kind of weather.

In the corner of my eye I noticed something red. It was the woman. She was beckoning me with her hand. I walked up to her and asked what was the matter.

"Can you keep a secret?", she whispered in a conspirational voice. I slowly nodded, not quite understanding what she was leading to.
"Okay, follow me", Ruth said and then went onto the platform. I followed her. On the platform was sitting London on his suitcase, who didn't notice me. Ruth turned around the corner and pulled out the book out of her little purse. In the I could see it better. It had a scarlet cover, just like the woman's coat, and no title. Ruth looked at me and then opened the book.
"I know your boss", she suddenly said, "This book was written by him. I don't know how or why you started working for him, but that is not a good idea. London has ruined countless of people, many of which have gone to prison because of him. He may look like a good, reasonable person, but trust me, I know". Ruth gave me the book and flipped through it. It was about all kinds of magical creatures that London met in his career. I was astonished by his work, some descriptions were so detailed that I could imagine the being they were describing. I quickly looked at London, but Ruth got my attention when she continued.
"Katherine, it's your choice to listen to my advice or not. Leave London as soon as you can", she grabbed me by my shoulders and looked into my eyes, "If you want to keep working with him, then I'll tell you something", she switched to whisper. "The man in the grey coat is the agent". Ruth quickly grabbed the book out of my hands and then put it in her purse and left the platform.

I had so many question for her, but when I went back inside the station, she was already gone. I looked at the man in the grey. He was still reading the newspaper, so I couldn't see his face. I grabbed my suitcase and went back outside, away from him. London was still sitting there, waiting for the train to arrive. I was thinking whether to tell him about Ruth or not, but decided to keep a secret for now. I didn't even know that London wrote and sold books about magic! Maybe he even has a library of his works that I don't know about? Frankly, I would love to read them, but I'm sure my boss wouldn't allow me to. He was always secretive about his income, probably because he still doesn't trust me. I can understand him, working with magic is not only dangerous by itself, but also because of the DTC. If the man in the grey was an agent, the DTC might already know about London.

"I should warn him", I thought to myself, but then changed my mind. After all, I promised to Ruth that I would keep her secret. If the DTC will find out that we know about their plan, they would probably put us in jail. We just had to act naturally, but this was not my boss's forte. I decided to keep an eye on that man, just in case anything happens.

After Ruth left, I had nothing to do but to wait. I wandered around the railway station for a bit, but I couldn't get rid of a feeling that I was being watched. the agent was now reading a book, which title I couldn't even bothered to see. I didn't want to come close to that man, so I quickly went outside to take a breath of fresh air. London seemed to have fallen asleep, so I was on my own if something bad happens. It was not ideal, but I didn't want to wake up my boss. We still had about half an hour ahead of us before the train arrives. Surprisingly, no more people came to the station since we arrived, which was strange, but I decided not to question it.

Fifteen minutes before our train was arriving, I took a brave decision and decided to talk with the man in the grey. I sat down near him and began the conversation, which took a lot of courage.

"Hello sir, my name is Katherine…", I hesitated. If I was going to tell my real second name, I'd put not only myself, but also London in great danger. "Foxx. Katherine Foxx". The man in the grey slowly lowered his newspaper and looked at me. I felt how I became more nervous under his sizzling look. He didn't reply to me, so I continued.
"So, where are you travelling?", I tried to keep the conversation alive, but the man once again ignored me. I didn't want to give up so quickly, despite feeling very uncomfortable in the company of this man.
"Were you reading the issue of The Times newspaper? I've heard there's been some debates over this extreme weather of ours", I said, but the agent just wasn't interested in me. I grabbed my suitcase and stood up, apologizing the man for bothering him. If he doesn't want to speak with me, then there's only one option to find out who he really is. It might be dangerous and stupid, but I had a plan.

Just before our train arrived, London woke up and walked up to me, while I was sitting on the bench outside.

"Miss Wolff, our train arrives at any moment, what are you waiting for?", he asked me with excitement. I didn't know why he was so obsessed with train, but I guess it was just something he likes. I got up without answering him and looked at the clock on top of the station. It was showing nine o'clock. I grabbed my suitcase from the bench. Mr. London was staying on the edge of the platform and I was afraid he might fall down on the rails.
"Mr. London, be careful! The line on the ground wasn't made for nothing", I warned him and he took a few steps back. He was like a child at the candy store. I heard the train whistle in the distance. In the corner of my eye I noticed how the man in the grey stood up from his seat. "So he is going with us", I thought. It wasn't the ideal outcome, but this meant that I had the opportunity to execute my plan.

The train arrived at the station and a loud whistle was made, informing everyone of a full stop. The conductor hasn't even stepped on the ground and London was already giving him the tickets. The man took his ticket and then let him in. London immediately ran up the stairs into the car. I also passed the tickets and got inside. This journey reminded of how my father used to tell me stories about the trains. He was a great man and it's a shame that he died. But I have to carry on my life, I can't change the past.

I got into my compartment and put my suitcase under the bed. I looked out of the window. We were still standing, so I decided to wander around the train. London seemed to have locked himself in his compartment. I had no idea what was he doing there, but by the number of books he took, he was reading. The man in the grey walked passed me, as I was looking out of the window in the hallway. He opened the fourth compartment, which was right next to mine. After he had closed the door, I heard a door click, as he locked it.

I got hungry, so I decided to go to the dining car. It had large windows that let through a lot of light, so it seemed much brighter than my compartment. I sat down at one of the tables and made an order. A few minutes later, the waiter returned with my food. I began to eat, while thinking about how I'm going to execute my plan. The idea was to make the gentleman in the grey speak, by making him drunk. Maybe that way I'll be able to find out more about the DTC's plan on us. I finished my meal and left a tip for the waiter.

When I returned back to my car, I was terrified. London was arguing with the DTC agent!

"What were you even doing there?!", the man in the grey asked London with anger. He was standing in the doorway to London's compartment. I couldn't see my boss, but I could hear him very clearly.
"I was just reading books!", London argued, but the man didn't want to listen.
"Don't you lie to me, I heard you shouting!", the man tried to go past London into the room, but my boss was standing in his way.
"I was just reading books aloud", London said a bit more polite, "I'm sorry if I bothered you, I didn't know you were such a light sleeper".
The man finally got passed Mr. London and went inside the compartment. I ran to the doorway to help London, but when I got there, the agent was already leaving.
"Read quieter", he said irritably and went back to his compartment. London went back into his room and closed the door, but before he was able to do it, I stopped him. He looked at me with confusion.

"Yes?", he asked me. I looked at him straight in the eyes and went into the compartment.
"What's the problem Miss Wolff", he asked me again, but I ignored him. I locked the door so that the man in the grey won't be able to distract us.
"Let me guess, you're the woman in the scarlet kimono", London said jokingly, but I was still angry at him.
"Mr. London, what were thinking?!", I almost shouted at him, but remembered that the agent was still on the train. "You could've gotten us in trouble!".
"Oh don't worry, I had everything under control", he said and then went back to reading. All the books he had didn't have any title.
"Mr. London, I have to tell you something", I said when I calmed down a bit. After all, it wasn't his fault for not knowing that the man in the grey was the agent. "That man is the agent from the DTC", I whispered to him.
"Right, and you're a princess", he said without looking up from the book.
"I am serious", I continued, "Ruth told me".
"Who?", London asked without interest.
"The woman on station, she had a red coat. Remember?", I said.
"Doesn't ring a bell", answered my boss. He was completely engrossed in a book.
"She had your book", I said confidently. London looked at me and I felt like a winner for catching his attention.
"What do you mean?", he asked carefully.
"It was a red book with no title, just like these", I pointed at the books lying on the bed, "It was about magical creatures and written by you".
London was silent for a solid minute before he said anything.
"There were many others before you", he started, "Ruth was one of them. She was my assistant, the best assistant I've ever had", he sighed. "Then, something went wrong. One day we argued and I fired her out of anger. She just turned around and walked away. Since then, I've never seen her, nor heard any news from Ruth". He put away his book. I felt bad for him.
"But what about the book?", I asked.
"Later that day I saw that one book was missing from my desk. I was still writing it at that time and I never published. Because Ruth stole it", he answered me.
"But why? Why would she need your book?", I questioned, but London was just as confused as I was. At this point I started to question myself if I can even trust Ruth! I mean, I barely know her and she argued with London. Maybe she's trying to revenge on him for his past mistakes? After all, she stole London's book for something. Maybe she's working for the DTC, who knows?

So many question without answers made me dizzy, so I decided to go to bed. I woke up only in the morning, when we were close to Penrith. A knock on my door made me get up. It was London, he was already ready to leave the train, despite the fact that we weren't in the town yet. His suitcase seemed to be larger than before, but I guess it was probably I just woke up.

"We're arriving in five minutes, so I suggest you get ready", he said to me and then walked away. I dressed up and checked if I didn't leave anything in my compartment. I then made my bed and went looking for London. I found him in the dining car, reading yet another book. I sat opposite him.
"What are you reading?", I asked curiously. He answered without looking away from the book.
"Studying countless stones".
"I've been thinking about Ruth", I started. London looked up at me from the book. I told him about my suspicion that Ruth might be lying to get a revenge on him. My boss thought for a moment and then continued reading.
"Why do you think so?", he asked me.
"Well, Ruth left you when your had an argument and she stole your book!", I said, but my answer didn't satisfy London.
"People change Miss Wolff", he said like he was teaching a baby how to count. "Miss Ruth has probably forgotten about our past mistakes and moved on. I don't see any reason why she would lie to us", London said and left the dining car.

I sat there thinking about his answer. My boss trusts Ruth, but why should I? She seems like a reasonable woman, but there's just something off about this whole thing. How does she know that the man in the grey is the agent? Why did she keep the book? Why didn't she talk to London instead of me? The train stop put me out of my thoughts. I grabbed my suitcase and went to the door. London was already standing there and I could see the irritation on conductor's face. When the door finally opened, London quickly went outside. I followed him, but couldn't see the gentleman in the grey. I asked the conductor what was the train's final stop.

"Carlisle", he answered shortly. I thanked him and then caught up with London.

"Have you noticed that the so called agent hasn't he gotten off at Penrith to follow us?", I said to London as we were going to a quite small train station of Penrith.
"What are you trying to say?", London asked me with a bit of irritation.
"Well, think about it! If Ruth was telling the truth and that man really was the agent, then why is he not following us? Shouldn't he just keep an eye on us around here?", I answered, waiting for my boss to reply, but he just silently walked into the building. It was a quite old, corner building, with tall windows that let in a lot of light.

When we went outside, it started to snow. London stopped a nearby cab and told some address. He beckoned me and we got into the carriage. The ride to Swinside was silent. London was reading yet another book and I was just thinking about Ruth. On the way I saw some beautiful landscape and a few sheep. I've never seen sheep before! We arrived only at noon, by that time the snow has already stopped. We got out of the carriage and London paid the driver.

"Is that Swinside?", I asked, pointing towards a grey ring in the distance.
"Yes and it is considered to be one of the many structures called Countless Stones", he answered me and started walking towards Swinside. As we got closer, I got that weird sense of danger.
"Don't you notice anything?", I asked London carefully, almost whispering. He nodded and we started walking more slowly. I looked around, but the cab has already gone.

The stones weren't big, not taller than London and were placed in a perfect circle. London took a look into his book.

"Weird, there isn't anything about the sense of danger", London said conceived. While he was reading his book, I walked up to one of the stones. I noticed something. Something grey. Horror filled my mind, as I tried to warn London, but it was too late. The man in the grey was standing in front of us.

"Good afternoon", said the man in a cold voice. I saw that he had a pistol in his hand. "I am an official authority sent by the Department of Thaumaturgy Control. I was ordered to investigate the case of Mister J. London and his travel to Swinside. Because of recent events I cannot allow you to get any closer than this to the structure. The Department's investigation team will arrive here soon. If you do not want any trouble, I recommend you turn around and go". Goosebumps went down my spine. I looked at London, but he didn't look up from the book. I was bewildered by his calmness.
"Mister London and Miss Wolff, I recommend you leave this location before the full forces will arrive", the man said, raising his gun. I started to slowly back away, but London was just standing there. I couldn't believe it! He was just completely ignoring the man who had an advantage over us by having a gun!

"Mister London, what are you doing?!", I angrily whispered to him, but he just closed the book and looked at the man.

"You seem like a reasonable gentleman, sir", London started. "And we still have some time before the investigation team arrives, so why don't you let us look around? We need it for an article", said my boss out of nowhere. What was he even talking about?
"You see, I work as a journalist and this is my assistant, Miss Wolff", he introduced me. The man lowered the pistol and I felt a bit calmer. He thought for a minute before pointing the gun at London.
"In your file it doesn't say that you're a journalist. It says that you're unemployed, but yet you still make money", he said calmly.
"Oh, well", London chuckled. "People always say that to me. The reason behind my 'ghostly' salary is that I'm not employed by any newspaper, I simply write articles and send them to whoever offers me a better price", he replied without stuttering. Did he come up with this lie on the fly or did he plan it? Sometimes I couldn't tell.

The man thought for well over a minute before putting his weapon into his coat. I breathed a sigh of relief.

"Fine, but be quick. I don't want my boss to see that there are civilians here", the man in the grey let us through. We walked into the stone circle. It was quite big.

"What now?", I quietly asked London. The man in the grey coat was standing not far away from us, so I tried not to raise his suspicion.
"Well,", started London raising his voice a bit, "We need to count the stones, then measure the radius of the circle and finally ask locals about it. It's a shame that you didn't bring you camera Miss Wolff, now we can't take a photograph for the article". I nodded and then started counting the stones. I tried, but for some reason, I couldn't count how many stones there were. I always lost count.

"One..", I started counting in my head. "Two… Three… Fo-", I stopped. For some reason I couldn't remember the next digit. I looked at London with confusion.

"Is this what you mean?", I asked. He looked up at me from the book.
"Yes", he answered and then started walking towards one end of the circle. He then started counting his steps until he reached the opposite end. He walked to me and said: "Around 25 meters". I grabbed my notebook and pencil from the suitcase and wrote it down.
"How many stones?", London asked me. I looked at him with a bit of irritation.
"I don't know", I answered honestly. My boss opened his suitcase and then started getting wooden pegs out. He then stuck a peg in the ground near each stone. I understood his plan and then started counting the pegs, but once again, I failed. I looked at London and then shook my head. He nodded and then took out all the pegs and laid them on the ground. While we were doing that, the man in the grey was watching us. I noticed multiple carriages arriving.

"Quick!", I said to London and pointed to the people getting out of the cabs. He put everything in his case and we ran in the opposite direction. I heard a shot and instinctively ducked. There was no forest to hide in, but luckily Swinside was standing on a hill, so when we ran far enough, the agents from the DTC couldn't see us anymore. We got to the nearest road and started walking in a random direction, looking for a carriage. London pointed at the small village in the distant and we walked there.

The village consisted of several small houses. The smoke was coming out of the chimneys and we saw an elderly woman walking with a goat on leash.

"Excuse me", I said to the woman in a friendly voice, but I was still catching my breath. "Could you tell us where we are?", I asked. The woman stopped and looked at us. She had a lot of wrinkles on her face and she was blind in one eye.
"You're in Stanhring, can't you see?", the woman replied with a bit of irritation. She continued walking, but London stopped her before she could get too far.
"Miss…", London started.
"Not you business", the woman replied, now with more anger.
"Miss Not-your-business, can you tell us about Swinside? It's pretty close to you, so I assume you know at least something about it", London said, but Miss 'Not your business' just pushed him aside and then continued on her way.
"Talk to Mister Cruz, he knows a lot about those boring stones", she answered before turning around the corner. We wanted to ask her where Mister Cruz lived, but when we took a turn round the corner, she was already gone. We wandered around the village, looking for some names. We saw a girl with freckles who was playing outside her house. We asked her if she knew where Mister Cruz lived and she pointed us towards the house across the street. We knocked on the door and heard some shuffling from the house. An old man opened the door. He was in his pyjamas, despite it being too early to be asleep.

"Hello?", the man was speaking with a Spanish accent.
"Good afternoon, are you Mister Cruz?", I asked. The man thought for a moment and then slowly nodded.
"Mister Cruz, could you please tell us about Swinside?", London inquired Mister Cruz. The man shot at us a spiteful glance and shut the door before our eyes. London started knocking on his door.
"Good afternoon Cruz, it's your pal, can 'ya open the door?", my boss said in a bad German accent. I rolled my eyes and tried to persuade Mister Cruz to open the door.
"Mister Cruz, we just want to know a bit more about Swinside", I started and waited for the reply. "The DTC won't let us near it", I continued. This time I could feel how Mr. Cruz started listening to me, so I decided to carry on.
"They're saying that the stones are in fact countable, it's just that people who've seen the stone circle, aren't the smartest", I said in a casual voice and London played along with me.
"Right! I saw how the agents surrounded Swinside with barricades. I believe they're planning on destroying it, so that onlookers won't spread the rumours". At this moment, the door opened and we saw Mister Cruz in a coat, with a scarf and a hat.
"Lead me to them", he said in an assertive voice. We lead him back to Swinside, which was a short trip. Things have changed there since we escaped from the DTC. The stone circle was now surrounded by agents, some were taking photographs of stones, measuring and, as it seemed like, trying to count the stones.

Mister Cruz walked up the hill, right to the agents. A young man ran up to him and tried to stop Mr. Cruz.

"I'm sorry sir, but you aren't allowed to be here", started the young DTC agent, but our companion just brushed him aside.
"No, you shouldn't be here!", Mister Cruz and everyone turned their head to him. The young agent tried to stop him and grabbed Cruz's arm, but the old man just pushed the agent away. "This is a private property of the Four Kings!". Mr. Cruz walked up to one of the stone and then turned to everyone in the crowd.
"Swinside was built by the Four Kings, the King of Humans, the King of Elves, the King of Dwarves, and the King of Trolls. This stone circle isn't something you idiots can just just destroy! It resembles the agreement of peace and cooperation between the four nations. The dwarves carved the stones out, the humans relocated them, the trolls put them in the perfect circle and the elves put a spell on them. The spell makes Swinside indestructible to those whose blood is not blue", finished Mister Cruz. Everyone were silent, but then we heard someone clap sarcastically. Everyone turned around to see the source of the sound. It was a tall, slim man, in the uniform of the Department of Thaumaturgy Control, but from his eyes I realised that he was the boss of this expedition. His voice was deep and soothing, much like William's voice, but it sounded cold and aggressive.

"What an interesting story", said the man, while clapping and approaching Mister Cruz. "It's a pity that we'll be destroy such a beauty", compassion wasn't heard in his voice.
"Yeah? And how are you going to do that?", Mister Cruz asked with confidence. The man walked up to him and said something that gave me goosebumps.
"It's simple", he made a dramatic pause. "My grandfather built this monument".

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