The palace was still there, old and unchanged, tucked amid the graceful 19th century apartment blocks. Clement adjusted his gaudy tourist visor and pulled what appeared to be an elaborate camera out of his neon fanny pack. He looked into the scope of the device then scanned the façade, frowning. The ghouls were still there. The ancient spell was strong, but there were signs of weakening. Each gnashing spirit was lashed into place by the grotesque carvings etched on the arches and buttresses of the Gothic structure. Most were bound by limb and wing. But time had freed an arm here and a claw there. These dangling spirits, driven mad by the possibility of freedom, thrashed harder than the rest.
Clement shook his head and rummaged in his fanny pack for his notebook. He took another sweep of the palace, stopping to note the condition of each gargoyle and its attendant spirit.
Clement shifted his position. The larger carvings on the turrets were harder to see from across the street, but he did not move any closer. He did not want to risk notice by the palaces’ inhabitants, the police, and most especially the spirits in the stonework.
“You can see them?” A woman’s voice broke his concentration.
“Pardon?” Clement turned to see a tall woman with a handsome face and an aristocratic bearing.
“The demons,” she looked around before gesturing to the palace. “behind the gargoyles?”
“That’s just an old wives’ tale,” he laughed and stuffed his equipment into his fanny pack. “To attract tourists like me.”
He gave her a toothy smile.
“I assure you that is no wives’ tale,” She muttered and threw a murderous glance at the palace. “We have lived in that nightmare for hundreds of years.”
“Are there tours?” Clement asked, bouncing on the balls of his feet. He tried to appear casual, but inside he was panicking. The first rule of his job was not to draw attention from the subjects.
“You know damn well there are no tours, Clement!” the woman grabbed his shoulder and hustled him across the street.
He was too shocked to object.