April 13, 1875

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They called to me.

It was a strange, beckoning sound that reverberated through my lands. I could feel it rise up from the ground beneath my feet and sing from the stones themselves. My trees shook with it, and it caused the weeping willows to pause in their wanderings.

Crouching down, I put the palm of my right hand upon the well-trodden path of my drive and felt the pulse of the sound.

With the direction of it firmly fixed in my mind, I set off for the source, and I was not in the least surprised to discover it came from a small valley deep in the heart of my lands.

A rough camp had been established there, and a group of men the likes of which I’d not seen before awaited me.

Their signal issued forth from a bowl set in front of the headman, and when I stepped out in front of them, he nodded to me and bade me sit.

I did so, my hands near the hilts of the Colts.

When he spoke, his words sounded only in my mind, his lips refusing to move.

“Duncan Blood,” the stranger said, “we are well met.”

“Are we?” I asked.

The men around me smiled.

“We are,” the headman stated. “If not, I believe there would be a great deal of violence, and none of us would survive the encounter.”

I nodded. “Sounds like truth.”

“I am here to ask your permission,” the headman continued. “We are hunters, and we’ve followed our prey from our home to yours.”

I considered the statement for a moment. “They came on the ship.”

“They did.”

“And a fool let them out.”

A bitter look flashed across the man’s face. “Yes.”

“What will you do with your prey?”

The headman offered a grim smile. “We’ll kill those that need killing.”

I nodded, smiled, and got to my feet.

“Stay as long as you like,” I told him and left them to their business.

#horror #fear

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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