Much of Twilight Robbery takes place in a town called Toll, which is perched on the edge of a precipice with a raging river at the bottom. Toll's bridge has been worn and warped by time and weather, the rock of the ridge is crumbling and the little walled town has no army worth mentioning to defend it, and yet its townspeople are smugly confident. Why? Toll contains the mysterious 'Luck', and all the citizens believe that no disaster can befall them while it lies within the walls of the town. As to what sort of thing the Luck really is, I shall let those who read the book discover that for themselves.
In England, a number of castles and stately homes really do have legends of a 'Luck', an object that cannot be lost or broken without dooming the families who live there to terrible disaster. Even today some people take the stories very seriously, and the 'Luck' is guarded and protected very carefully, just in case…
According to legend, many centuries ago a servant working at Eden Hall was sent out to collect water from St Cuthbert's Well, and chanced upon a group of fairies who were having a picnic, and dancing to entertain their queen. When they saw him, they all fled in confusion, and accidentally left behind one of their glass goblets. The servant seized it, and clung to it despite all the fairies' efforts to snatch it back from him. Furious, the fairy queen shouted after him that:
Should the Cup e'er break or fall
Farewell the Luck of Edenhall
The servant took it back to the hall and gave it to his masters, the Musgrave family, and warned them to keep it safe or risk falling foul of the fairies' curse.
Some lords were apparently more careful with the cup than others, though. One of them often used it as a drinking glass at table, and would even toss it in the air. One night after raising the glass in a toast, he let it slip out of his hand. Fortunately his sharp-eyed butler was hovering nearby, and managed to swoop down and catch the goblet before it could hit the ground.
The Luck still exists. If you visit the Victoria & Albert Museum you can see it there, a beautiful flared goblet covered in twisting blue, green, gold and white patterns.
It is said that once upon a time, over five hundred years ago, a king was wandering the hills of Eskdale in confusion and despair. He had been crowned Henry VI, but he had lost control of his country, and the army supporting him had just been defeated, forcing him to flee. Kindly shepherds discovered him and lead him to Muncaster Castle, where he was taken in and treated well by its owners, the Pennington family. When he left, he gave the lord of the castle a glass drinking bowl which he said had been blessed by holy men, and told him that as long as it remained unbroken the family would never lack a male heir.
The lords of Muncaster seem to have taken this very seriously indeed. Some apparently buried the cup to keep it safe. There is also a tale of an enemy of the family who tried to trigger the curse by throwing the Luck down a well. Some time later however it was discovered at the base of the well, unbroken, and was recovered. It exists to this day, guarded carefully.
Folklore claims that this goblet was taken from St Olave's tomb by a king of the Isle of Man, and would bring great luck to any family that owned it. If anybody broke it, however, they would be haunted by the 'Ihiannon Shee' or 'peaceful spirit' of Ballafletcher. I don't know about you, but haunting doesn't sound very 'peaceful' to me…
Once again, this cup was said to be a gift from a monarch-in-distress. The legend has it that Mary Queen of Scots once received kind hospitality at Workington Hall when she sorely needed it, and before parting gave the Curven family a cup made of agate.
Nobody knows exactly what became of the cup, though some say it was stolen many years ago. Interestingly, the once grand Workington Hall is now a ruin, said to be infested with ghosts. Who knows? Perhaps the thief broke the cup…