None had been spared.
Early this morning, as I put on a fresh pot of coffee, one of my ravens arrived at the kitchen door and hammered on the damned thing as though the world was on fire.
When I let him in, the bird hopped up onto the table, turned his head to me and spoke a single word.
When a raven speaks of strangers, the bird does not mean some fool who’s wandered down from Boston or taken the train up from Worcester.
No, strangers come only from the Hollow.
I took the coffee off the stove, went into the front parlor and buckled on my Colts as the bird told me that the strangers had been seen making their way toward the Roi homestead.
That bit of information spurred me on, and within moments I was astride a horse and moving at a gallop through fresh snow. When I reached the Roi home, the horse reared back, eyes rolling and nostrils flaring.
Even I could smell the blood in the air.
I tethered the horse to a tree near the road and left the raven to keep watch over him. Loosening the Colts in their holsters, I followed a mass of strangely shaped tracks to the back of the house. The door had bad been broken off the hinges and cast aside into the yard. The bitter tang of blood wafted from the house, and I walked up the few short steps into the kitchen.
Blood was drying on the walls, and there were gouges in the same. Chairs were broken, and the table was shattered. Food and crockery lay on the floor, and the tracks continued into the house.
Within moments, I came upon offal and human remains, and I realized I was looking at the butchered, naked forms of all fifteen of the Roi family, from the parents to the youngest babe.
Not a one of them had been spared.
Glancing around the room, searching for the clothes, a cold knot formed in the pit of my stomach.
The tracks changed from unrecognizable to that of human feet.
Whatever had slain the family had also taken on their forms, and they were loose among the citizens of Cross.
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