"Are you my date or informant," I shot back. I took a sip of chilled water with thin twists of lemon and cucumber coiling on the surface like snakes.
"Can't it be both?" He gives a look he thinks is flirtation. He'll have to work on that.
"No thanks, let's keep this on business."
"As you wish," he reached under the table and came up with a thick folder bound closed by a loop of string. He put it in the middle of the table and sat back. "That's what you are here for. All the nuts, bolts, whistles, bit and ram on the Castles. I keep that file very up to date so there shouldn't be any problems. While you dine me I'll give you the highlights so you'll know just what a crazy bunch of people you are snooping on."
"You are snooping as well," I said as I pick up the file and put in the briefcase at my side. The waitress came and he ordered as proclaimed the most expensive appetizer and drinks. I ordered more water and a salmon salad festia whatever that was. When the waitress left Oscar smiled and leaned forward.
"Oh sure I'm a snoop, but they don't mind me. I'm practically family on my mom's side. What they would mind is if you hired a lot of private detectives trampling over their fiefdom. The Castles would consider that rude, and that would probably end any chance of contact with them. Around their home ground the base rule my friend is tread lightly."
I nod. I had already done some research on this odd family, and the most important thing I found out was there was a lot of important things not found. They weren't ghosts, they couldn't be the way they used their money and power, but they were verry good keeping a low profile. "Oscar, if you are so close to them, why should I trust your information?"
"A Castle would say you shouldn't trust anyone. But there's a saying around here that goes something like 'If you want to know if the horse is eating well talk to the stable boy not the master of the house.' I'm a nobody Mr. Carries and they aren't going to get too upset over the little tidbits I feed you. I'll be blindly honest, I haven't a clue about the big secrets on Castlemount, I don't even know if there are big secrets on Castlemount. What I'm giving you is just the kiddie tour. But I think you'll find it interesting enough. For example, do you know where the Castles come from?"
"All I could get was they originated from Eastern Europe," I said as my Salmon Festia was brought to me. It was less a salad and more a sea food cold case where some poor greens had unfortunately exploded around. Perhaps a lettuce grenade. It was either far too much meat for a salad or too many greens for a sushi bar.
"Ah you'll like this. See it starts with Maria Intelept, she married a Romanian count or whatever they call themselves in 1620. In 1621 hubby dies. Maria though isn't a stay at home type of girl. She starts sending letters all across Europe. She starts collecting all sorts of wise men, strange men, and specially alchemists. She houses them either at her castle or a near by monestary. Things go on like that for a few years, but then the powers that be get a bug up the butt about it. Maybe they smelled the ancient equivalent of a meth lab. I don't know. Anyway, Maria rolls up her entire castle, the monestary, and the near by village and they make tracks just ahead of soldiers. From there she crosses across central Europe and then south to what we know as Albania. There she marries another rich lord. Antoni Kala, which I understand means "Castle" when translated. There they spent several years together in their shared interests of alchemy and having kids. Maria had seven children in seven years for Antoni Kala. They also gathered even more interesting folks. I remember coming up with a little list from scrape of a surviving letter. Let's see I remember: An albino turk, a streigo or italian witch, 15 french swordsmen, 12 welsh lancers, a tanner from florence, five artists from Rome, an excomunicated priest from Prague, a natural philospher from London, and a Scotsman by the name of Red Sean. That one always stuck with me cause one wing of the Castle family has bright red haid which always led me to wonder...."
"So alchemy that's turning lead into gold, and stuff. Magic right?" I decided to stick to my water and let the Salmon Festia fend for itself.
"Not so much. I mean sure there was that gold/lead thing. But it's deeper stuff. I don't get it, something about purity, touching heaven. So much crap. You going to eat that?" He spears some of my salmon not waiting for a reply. "Anyway around 1634 things got hot for them again. This time it was a mix of the church and local authorities. They burned down all of Kala's holding and would have probably killed them if they hadn't took off first. They still might have been caught but they split their happy little family into three and hid under the cover of traveling gypsy families. This got them to Portugal where they booked passage. Maria said she had a vision of where to go, a place of safety and security. It took over a year of travel but finally they found this nice little pensula and one look at the Castlemount and they knew they were home. Since then they've been busy busy busy, but in a quiet way. They've changed their names from Kala to Castle and on the surface are so all american they could sell the fourth of July to the Russians."
"That's quite a story," I said.
"That, my friend is just the first course. You'll love the other dishes."