He pulled a stick of gum from his pocket as he crossed the High Street, dropped into Cockburn and turned down the steps of Fleshmarket Close. There was graffiti scrawled on the walls, one big message advising ‘Chin up, you might see a Sky-Rat’.
The Close was empty except for three men climbing from the bottom and he took no notice until he realised they had stopped and were looking up at him. He glanced behind and saw two other men coming down. He toyed with brushing through the threesome but then an instinct told him to pause, to let this play out.
Fleshmarket Close used to run all the way from the High Street down to Market Street on the banks of Nor' Loch, but it was broken in two by the construction of Cockburn Street in 1855. It is named after the meat market which used to be situated on this site and the slaughterhouse further down the hill.
With Edinburgh's smallest pub situated halfway along, there is something about this Close which epitomises the dark, dangerous history of the Old Town. As you climb, you feel the dank coldness, you sense the shadows, and the very name - Fleshmarket - reaches into you.
It is on these steps where Tyler Maitland first encounters the Pantheon. Where the Venarii hunting party first accosts and interrogates him, then sets him upon his fateful journey.