Had the one-eyed raven not been with me, I would have returned home after the butchering of the creatures in the house. He convinced me we would be safe in the Hollow overnight. It was strange to hear the raven speak calmly, as though he was like myself, with centuries behind him.
We camped a short distance away, and I neither worried nor feared any intruders. The one-eyed raven kept watch, and I slept soundly in the Hollow.
With the sunrise, we set off again, fortunate that the house had not shifted and that the road remained where it was before. This, I felt, was more the work of the raven than any sloth on the part of the Hollow.
Somehow, he bent Gods’ Hollow to his will.
We traveled for more hours than there were in the day, tracking one of the offshoots of the creatures from the day before. Finally, we came upon another structure, the exterior of which had once been heavily fortified. There were gun-loops in the walls, and the door – made from thick slabs of oak – had been torn from its heavy iron hinges.
Inside the building were all the trappings of modern life. Where the house had been torn from, I do not know what I do know is that there was nothing alive for us to find.
From the photographs and the belongings scattered around, I could see that at one time, a family of five had occupied the building. But there was blood splatter on some of the walls, and signs of a fire inside, as though the defenders had tried to use it as a last-ditch defense.
It had failed.
Of the family, there was no sign.
I stood there for some time, the raven on my shoulder, his now-familiar perch.
“They grow desperate, Duncan Blood,” the one-eyed bird told me. “They will falter soon.”
I looked around the room, taking in the destruction, and I nodded.
Silently, we left the building, the sun easing towards the horizon. We settled in close to the house, and I cleaned my Colts as we waited for night to fall and hoped that the children had at least died quickly.
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