The sound of laughter poisoned the air.
‘It was a sickening sound. One I had heard from the lips of men who knew they were dying, and which turned the bowels of brave men to water,’ my father wrote.
‘I am still in Gods’ Hollow, and I doubt I shall ever find my way out. I am leery of even settling into any of the towns that I occasionally see. My dead wife, in her many forms, is still very much present in this abomination, and I would hate to be caught unawares by her. It is safest, I feel if I keep moving.
‘This afternoon, as I scouted for a place to hole up for the night, the laughter caught my attention, and so I followed it. I have found it is always better to do so in the daylight. At least then, I can better defend myself.
‘I found a tree standing alone, and from it hung five corpses. From their dead mouths came the laughter, and when I approached it, their mirth increased in volume. I came to a stop, clasped my hands behind my back, and waited to hear what the dead had to say.
‘It took them quite some time before they finished. When they did, one of them twisted on his rope, peered at me with empty sockets and said, “You are his father.”
‘The dead men, in unison, replied, “Duncan Blood.”
‘I nodded. “He put us here.”
‘I asked why and the one who had spoken first answered, “Why not?”
‘This brought out gales of laughter as one of them stated, “He did not like the way we bred. He told us rape was unacceptable. Your son gelded us, and he was not gentle Ezekiel Blood. Not gentle at all.”
‘I shrugged, and they laughed again.
‘When I asked if this was all they had to say, the first speaker wheezed out a chuckle. “No. We hate your son. Tell him, if you see him, that we will have our revenge.”
‘I raised an eyebrow at the statement, considered it for a moment, and then went forward to the tree. As I crouched down beneath them, the dead men demanded to know what I was about, and I ignored them as I set fire to the tree.
‘They were no longer laughing when I settled down to watch them burn.
‘I will not have anyone threaten my son.’
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