They think they’re staying.
A bitter chill settled over the house, and it took me a good part of the morning to get the damned place warmed up. A short time past noon, once I’d had my fill of coffee and a bit of coffee cake, I went out to the orchard to check on the trees. They were still in a fine state following the single shell lobbed at me from the Hollow, and I saw there were at least three trees I wouldn’t be able to save.
That meant three more saplings when planting time came round and three more bodies to bury beneath them.
Nothing feeds an apple tree like a fresh corpse.
I’d just finished arguing with an older tree, one my father had planted after King Philip’s War when one of the fey caught my attention.
She was a young creature, more fisher cat than pixie, but I understood her fine when she spoke.
“Blood, there’s men on your lake.”
“Again?” I asked, taking my pipe out and packing the bowl.
The pixie grinned at me, flashing sharp, feral teeth. “Aye. Again. Of the same ilk as those you slew yesterday.”
I raised an eyebrow and lit the tobacco.
She shifted from one hindfoot to the other. “They’re a buildin’ on your land, Duncan Blood. Your father’s land.”
I see the delight in her eyes and the hunger too.
“Which island are you from?” I asked.
She laughed. “The one you call Tod.”
“Would be a good spot if it wasn’t already occupied.” I looked at her. “Why are you telling me?”
“Too much iron,” she snorted. “Spoils the soil, it does.”
“I’ll be there bye and bye.”
She grinned again, then slipped into the shadows.
I returned home and packed heavy. The trip out to Tod was longer than most, and some days it slipped into the Hollow for an hour or two. Going onto the island was never done lightly. It couldn’t be.
I gave myself provisions for three days, took a 10-gauge coach gun as well.
It was nearly dusk by the time I reached Tod Island, but there was plenty of light to see what the men had built.
A small building stood atop the island’s first hill, and an Eastern cross rose from the center.
From what I could see, it was where the men wanted their bodies stacked when I was through.
I’m happy to oblige.