It was one hell of a mess.
I sat on the split-rail fence of Luke Abel’s back paddock and looked at the remains of what had once been thirty head of sheep.
There were thirty heads, but most of the rest of the sheep were gone. Oh, there were a few odds and ends. Bits of broken bones, some wool. The occasional length of intestine or liver, but by and large, the sheep were gone.
Luke was in town, drinking away his misery with some money I had given him for that same purpose. It also allowed me to get a look at the charnel house that had once been his sheep’s favored pasture.
As I sat on the fence, I tried to determine whether it was a creature from the Hollow or from the boat that had done the deed.
That determination was made for me a moment later.
A short distance away, a pair of men emerged from the tree-line that marked the right edge of the paddock. One was armed with a sword and a small metal rod. His companion was bound with rope, secured with an iron chain, and his head and mouth were covered, leaving only his eyes free. Hunger and rage were in those eyes, and I think he may well have been interrupted in his meal.
The two men approached the fence, the armed man’s eyes darting from his prisoner to me and back again with the ease and comfort of a man used to danger.
They reached the fence, and the armed man prodded his prisoner none-too-gently. The prisoner let out a guttural curse, and the armed man gave him a solid rap on the top of the head with the metal rod.
The blow silenced the prisoner, and together they climbed over the fence.
As they passed by me, I could smell blood, and I saw the same splattered around the prisoner’s eyes.
They continued toward North Road and Gods’ Hollow.
I packed my pipe, lit the tobacco, and glanced back at the remains of Luke’s butchered sheep.
One thing about the creatures from the box, they all seemed to have a hell of an appetite.