Neither the island nor the tree was there yesterday.
I’m well-aware of what is and isn’t on Blood Lake. I’ve prowled around its shores, swum in its waters, and explored the islands for over two hundred years, and this damned island wasn’t there last night.
The lake itself seems displeased with the presence of the new outgrowth. I’ve not seen the waters churned up to waves in a long time.
Which means that I’ve got to see what the hell is going on.
It was a short pull in the canoe to the island, and after about twenty minutes, I found a place to beach the canoe, and I pulled it up onto shore just to make certain that it didn’t vanish. The naiads know better than to touch my things, but the merfolk, well, let’s just say that I can’t seem to kill enough of them.
When I reached the top of the island and stood near the tree, I smelled the all-too-familiar of spilled blood. The iron tang of it left a sour taste in my mouth and caused the hackles on my neck to rise.
As I gazed upon the tree, I saw its trunk twist, bit by bit, until it appeared to be facing me.
Roots curled up out of the earth, and I raised an eyebrow.
In clear, precise Japanese, I stated, “I will set fire to you and pull this thrice-damned island apart.”
The roots froze where they were, and a soft voice whispered from the tree, “You speak.”
I snorted. “More than I should, some days.”
“Where am I?”
“’Bout as far form Nihon as one can get.”
The branches shook angrily. “I need to eat.”
“Blood,” the tree grumbled.
“Anyone in particular?”
It chuckled. “No.”
“Occasionally,” I said, “there are fools who trespass.”
The tree leaned toward me, roots sinking back down. “What do you do with them?”
“I usually gut them and leave them to rot,” I replied. “If you’d like to take care of them for me, well, I suppose that would be a fine arrangement.”
“Will they find me?”
“Idiots always find their own deaths.”
The tree shook with laughter. “That is an undeniable truth. What is your name?”
“I am Ketsueki.” The tree sighed. “I am Blood as well.”
It’s strange how family finds each other.