I found him.
He’d hidden himself away on one of my islands. I don’t know if he thought he’d be safe from me by being close, but it was a mistake.
It was the smell of smoke that caught my attention, and the sight of the same is what condemned him.
There are few creatures that live on my islands, and all of them do so with my permission. When I find evidence of habitation, I go and see who or what has dared to trespass.
I followed the smoke, spoke to a few of the merfolk who had sense enough to answer my questions, and found the Father Christmas on Bear Island. He’d fortified the place, putting up walls and ruining any sort of decent anchorage.
But none of that would stop me.
Since I’d rescued the last group of children from the Hollow, I’d been looking for the Father Christmas who’d stolen them. Word had gone ‘round the Fey that he was somewhere close to Cross. I just hadn’t realized he was still in Cross.
I found a high wall on the lee side of the island and pulling my canoe close, I scrambled up and over the barrier. When I reached the forest floor, I saw a great many carved monsters.
A wide trail cut through the woods, and I followed it. Soon, I heard someone hammering and a pleasant voice singing. A hard snow fell, building up on my clothes despite the speed at which I moved.
I reached a small glade and found the Father Christmas. He stood at a quaint house, hammer in one hand and nails in the other as he gazed at his work. The house was a pretty bit of business and no doubt would have enticed more than one child.
Drawing a Colt, I shot him in the lower back.
The roar of the revolver rolled through the stillness as the man cried out and fell to the earth. He tried to drag himself away, but his arms lacked the strength he needed.
He managed to twist around as I walked closer, his eyes widening.
I holstered the Colt and squatted down beside him. I drew my knife, pried open his mouth, and cut out his tongue.
I had no desire to listen to him beg and beg he would.
He didn’t know it, but he was going to take a long time to die.