Duncan Blood’s Journal: 1871

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Not all the killers who come to Cross are human, though I wish they were.

I was riding home on a pleasant April evening when I noticed Doug McClure leaning against a tree on the edge of his tree. In the forty years I had known the man, never had I seen him rest. It wasn’t in his nature.

I brought my horse up short and called out to Doug, concerned that there might be something amiss. When he didn’t respond, I was certain there was.

Getting out of the saddle, I approached the man from the side, and as I drew nearer, I saw Doug wasn’t leaning against the tree. Half his body had been flayed, and it was nailed to the young oak with shards of bone. It took me a moment to understand that he’d been pinned there with his own ribs.

Thankfully, Doug was dead, though, by the amount of blood on the ground, I could tell he had taken quite some time to die.

As I was examining the field to see who had done this to him, I found four sets of small shoeprints. Concerned that his children had witnessed his demise, I set off on the trail.

Within a short time, I found four children seated in Doug’s field, and they were all quite pleased to see me. When they spoke, it was not in English. Instead, they spoke in Russian and the curious manner with which they inflected their words told me what they were before they did.

They were Dvorovoi, and they had arrived in Cross by way of Gods’ Hollow.

“We know of you, Duncan Blood,” the tallest of the four told me. “Your mother waits for you.”

“Does she?” I asked.

The female Dvorovoi nodded, winked, and added, “She told us to kill you if we saw you.”

“But we won’t,” another informed me.

“We don’t like her,” the female laughed.

Before I could take them to task for killing Doug, the four took off running for the Hollow.

I didn’t bother shooting them.

Lead wouldn’t do a damned thing to them.

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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