I caught them in the open.
I’d heard a bit of a ruckus while working in the western orchard, and word of intruders soon came to me through the trees.
After a short conversation with one of the elder apple trees, they agreed to help me funnel the intruders into a kill box. The dryads, who weren’t feeling especially helpful, finally decided to assist me as well, and they were able to coax saplings and brush to line the edges of the kill box.
As the trees and the dryads worked together, I scouted out the source of the sound to see how many Killed Soldiers – if any – had come up out of the lake.
Half a dozen of them had.
I recognized the uniforms.
Hell. I recognized the men.
In the War of the Rebellion, I’d fought alongside all six of them and buried them all too.
It was bad enough that my mother was raising the dead and sending them back. It was worse that she was choosing those I’d bled for.
“John William!” I called out.
The men stopped and dropped down, Spencers up and ready.
“What say you, Duncan?” John William asked from the center of the small column.
“That you’d best find another way to get at me,” I warned. “I’m set to kill all six of you. I doubt dying a second time is going to be any better than the first.”
I worked my way back a bit, making sure they could hear me and follow easily if they chose to.
“We’ve our orders, Duncan,” John William replied. “Your mother wants to put an end to your bad behavior. We were going to set fire to the Coffins’ house, but your refusal to obey your mother has caused her to change her mind.”
“I’d be surprised if it didn’t.”
John William and the troops followed me at a steady pace, weapons always ready. I’d eased the Colts out of their holsters and thumbed the hammers back.
When we reached the kill box, I called out again.
“As a friend, John William, I’m telling you to leave.”
John merely cocked his rifle and waited.
With a sigh, I nodded to the trees.
In moments, the men were trapped, their rifles wrenched from their hands by the living trees.
I stepped out into the kill box, brought out the Colts, and butchered the men.