We met them in the Hollow.
And we fought hard.
We did not wait for my mother’s gathered troops to march out in formation, to take up their positions and sweep across my town.
No, we defended Blood lands and my town, and we went at the Killed Soldiers in the tried and true fashion of New Englanders.
We fired from behind walls and trees, and we employed all the craft of a hunter. The dogs broke off into groups of two and three, and we could hear their voices above the din of battle.
The canines lured the Killed Soldiers into traps, crying out as though wounded. The Killed Soldiers were in no mood for prisoners, and neither were we.
No quarter was asked for no quarter would be given.
It was an unspoken truth we all understood.
I led the way, if not by example, then by brutality.
I scalped the wounded and opened their bellies, their shrieks of pain unnerving even to men who had already died once.
My enemy needed to fear me more than they feared my mother, and soon enough, they did.
They began to fall back, and as they did so, the Coffins picked them off from secure firing positions, and the dogs dashed out to drag men into the tree line, where throats were torn out and stomachs emptied.
The survivors began to run, and we cut them down.
We herded them into a small glade, at the far end of which a door appeared and was thrown open. A strange version of my mother stepped out.
She stood at least seven feet tall, if not close to eight, and her arms and legs were all wrong, as though she’d once been a spider. Her white dress was yellowed and stained, her glassy eyes catching the sun. Black ichor dripped from a mouth too wide, and a horrendous scream attempted to drive back the Killed Soldiers.
I took my Spencer, chambered a round, and sighted along its barrel. As my mother barked her orders, I put a bullet through her open mouth and watched as she fell with disturbing elegance to the ground.
The soldiers fled through the door, and the field was ours.
We left the bodies to rot and went home to draw up the papers for Aretas’ islands.
Was seeing one of my mothers dead worth a pair of islands?
It sure as hell was.