They were worse than ticks.
By 1910, the University had the library, two halls and a pair of residences built on the land they’d acquired from Phil Jepson.
They had acres more they could use as well.
In the winter of 1910, they had finished a large office. Ostensibly, it was to be used for admissions into the school once it was fully up and running with a complement of students.
In reality, the damned thing was used to move items into Cross that had no damned business being there. Word came to me of a hand of glory that had arrived in August, a witch’s hammer in September, and an actual scale of the Wyrm that had devoured a portion of Vesuvius in AD 79 and triggered the destruction of Pompeii.
The thought that these items, each powerful in and of itself, residing in any sort of capacity in Cross, displeased me.
I learned of them the hard way.
I happened to be in the post office when a package from Crete arrived. I was loitering at the window, talking with Del Watts, the postmaster, when one of the men voiced his wonder at where else the school was going to receive packages from.
Before anyone could answer his question, the package exploded.
The man holding it was vaporized, his remains painting the walls in a fine mist of organic matter.
I don’t know what was in the package, and I don’t care.
I helped clean up as best I could and then checked the loads on my Colts, loosened them in their holsters, and made my way to the University.
I went into the office and found a pair of men, neither of who were expecting me. They knew who I was, though, and before I could speak, they drew small revolvers.
I don’t believe they expected me to draw my own guns, but I did. As their pistols barked in the confines of the office, at least one of the bullets striking me in the left arm, my Colts roared.
I admit I was irked, and I emptied all twelve chambers into them.
I left the bodies on the floor of the office and a message in blood on the desk.
The school didn’t listen.
Not at first.