We tracked down the group that had attempted to ambush us the previous day.
They were holed up in a blockhouse, which looked as though it might have been built by some of the stonemasons I had known as a child. And who knows, perhaps it was.
Regardless as to who crafted the building, its strength was undeniable.
Had I artillery, or at least significant explosives, I might have been able to breach the walls and gone in with relative ease.
As it was, the one-eyed raven and I knew it would be a fight. While I confess to some trepidation at the idea of plunging headlong into darkness to battle the creatures, the raven seemed unconcerned. He noticed my apprehension and inquired as to the cause.
I readily informed him, and he let out a sharp, harsh laugh. It was not done to mock me, but to bolster my spirits.
“Duncan Blood,” the raven said, preening his breast, “do you think that creatures such as these are meant to bring you to your end?”
“I don’t know.”
The one-eyed bird let out a barking sound of dissent. “I do. I can tell you this is not where you die.”
I peered at this strange raven and realized he was speaking the truth.
I might be injured. Perhaps severely. But I would not die here.
Laughing, I drew my Colts. With the raven on my shoulder, I strode into the bunkhouse.
The battle was long and bitter, and by the time my guns were silent, I bled from a score of wounds. My shirt was in tatters and hands ached from the weight of the Colts.
We stood in a small room, the last of the creatures dead at my feet, my ears ringing from the concussions of the guns. There was an open door across from us, and a set of stairs descending into darkness.
I made my way toward them, and the raven shook his head.
“Tomorrow,” he told me. “Tonight, you must heal. In the morning, we shall send more to their deaths.”
I nodded and drew my Bowie knife.
The raven watched me as I began to skin the nearest creature. When he asked why I smiled.
“I need a new shirt.”
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