It killed three people in the dead-end alley off East Stark Street before I caught up with it.
Hellhounds are notoriously difficult to catch, though far easier to kill. I never learned who summoned the hound, nor to what purpose. If the goal was to sow fear and discord, it failed. I cannot believe that any of the victims were intended as targets, though there may have been something in the dead persons’ past.
Regardless as to the reasons why and what-for, the hellhound came to Cross on a cool June evening. I smelled the beast’s sulfurous stench when I was in the Old Cross Cemetery, paying respects to long-dead friends. There is no mistaking that odor, or what it portends. I rode my horse hard back to the farm, gathered up my Colts, and raced back to the cemetery. The tracks were easy enough to follow – great, smoldering prints of a hound.
When I reached Main Street, I could clearly hear the screams of the victims, and when the wind shifted, I smelled burning human flesh. More screams rose up, and I reached the alley in time to see the hound kill the last of its victims.
I put twelve rounds into the beast’s head and chest, then I reloaded and added another six shots for good measure. When I was done, several members of the Cross Historical Society – those few who know of my age and other, darker things – helped me to drag the hound’s body to the river, where we tumbled it in. For well over a week the water was warmer than normal, but I’ll take a hot river over dead children every time.
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