I spent all the 30th and into the 31st hunting for those who had ordered the killing of the children. Those seeking the return of my mother.
I couldn’t find them.
It was as though they had slipped through the barriers thrown up by the gods and escaped my justice.
The thought was infuriating.
By the time the sun had burned the morning dew off the grass, I was in a fine state. Sweating in the cool air, pipe clenched between my teeth and puffing away like a train as I stomped across an open field.
There was a shimmer in the sky, a hint that whatever the god had done to pin this section of the Hollow down was fading. I wouldn’t have much more time to find them before I risked being trapped in the damned place.
A slight rise started in the field, and I followed it up. In my chest, a vain hope was born. Perhaps, I’d gain the rise and look down into a valley. A wide-open killing field where I would see my prey. I would pick them off, one by one, leaving them wounded.
There would be no killing shots.
Nothing so merciful.
I would fall upon them as the Iroquois once had. Their scalps would hang from my belt, and I would skin the largest of them to make a rough bag for the hearts I would harvest.
The images were pleasant, and my hopes were dashed when I reached the rise.
There was one man working in the field. He was mowing the long grass with a scythe, his movements easy and well-practiced.
A glance to the sky showed me I had but a little bit of time left, and I made the decision to question the man, to see if he’d seen any of my prey.
As I drew closer to him, he stopped his mowing and leaned upon the scythe. He tilted his hat back, spat out some chew, and offered up a pleasant, familiar nod.
The man’s voice was cold and rooted me to the ground.
“Aye,” I answered.
“Best if you get on home,” he stated. “I’ve taken care of them for her.”
I blinked, as surprised as I was confused.
“What I can say,” he shrugged, “I’m sweet on her.”
I nodded, turned around, and headed for home.
It’s not everyday Death tells you he’s sweet on a god.
Still, I wish I had my scalps.