Peace

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The smell of lilacs hung in the damp air.

I pushed through a heavy fog and came upon a farmhouse.

All about the home and its barn were great lilac bushes. They towered above the buildings, their out-of-season blossoms hanging low to the ground.

As I approached the home, a sense of calm settled over me. My body rebelled against it, and my hand went instinctively to the handle of my war club. The place was too quiet. Too peaceful.

I doubted all of it.

The sound of singing, soft and sweet, reached my ears.

The song pulled me to the barn, where I stopped and peered into the dim interior. There, seated on a stool in the nearest stall, was a young woman. She was clad in white and held a young child to her chest, allowing the babe to suckle. When the woman looked up, she smiled. Her teeth were sharp and white, her eyes stitched shut, but neither of those could shatter the beauty of her face.

“Duncan,” she said, and my name was music as it slipped past her lips. “It is a long time since we met.”

“I don’t remember you,” I confessed.

“Of course, you don’t,” she smiled. “And that is neither here nor there. I remember you, and I remember what you have done.”

I tightened my grip upon the club. I’d killed mothers and suckling babes before, and while I did not relish the idea, I would not shrink from my chores.

Her smile broadened into a grin. “No, you’ve done nothing wrong to me, Duncan. Quite the opposite. Had you not cut out my eyes and sewn the lids closed, I would not be here today with our daughter.”

The last word caused my breath to catch in my throat.

The woman nodded. “My past is your future, Duncan. And when we first meet, it is violence and pain. I will eat the better part of your leg as you cut out my eyes, and it is only then that I will truly see the world. You will nurse me to health, and we will fall in love. For a short time. It will be strange for both of us, and it will not last, as it should not. But we will give the world our child, and she is more than the world deserves.”

With that, the woman peeled back the fabric around the babe and showed me, my daughter.

I doubt I will ever see such beauty again.

#supernatural #paranormal

Lost

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I’m not sure where I am.

I know I’m in the Hollow. Of that, I’ve no doubt. But how close I might be to my lake, I don’t know.

I’ve been lost in the Hollow before, and it’s never pleasant. More than once, I’ve slipped into a Cross that was not my own, and those times have been more difficult than any others.

A heavy fog lay upon this island, and I’ve spent most of the day moving carefully. I can hear things in the wind. Whispers from half-glimpsed trees. I’ve an urge to go and see what they might know, but there’s an odd scent in the air, and I don’t trust it. Until I know it’s not the trees or any other creature on this island; I’ll keep my own counsel.

Despite the strangeness of this place, I am comfortable. My knife is against the small of my back, and the war club thumps off my leg, bringing forth memories of my youth. I can well remember going to war with the Abenaki, of traveling through deep forests and along river banks on our way to French Canada. I can remember bringing war to raiders and exacting vengeance upon the same. The killing head on my war club is dented and scarred, but the polish on it shines whenever there is light.

Blood and war have made it beautiful.

My Colts, as always, rest upon my hips. The revolvers sit low, tied down to my thighs and loosened in their holsters.

I catch the scent of smoke, and soon, the fog dissipates, and I find myself on a road. A short distance away, I see the dark smoke that speaks plainly of a house fire.

Soon, I reach the building, and amid the roar of the fire, I hear a voice.

It is a man’s voice, and he is begging.

Moving closer, I can see him as he claws his way out of the burning structure. One arm is gone, as are his legs. He is little more than a charred corpse as he uses his remaining fingers to grasp the grass and pull himself forward.

For a moment, I can only look and wonder.

Then I see the name on the post box.

Blood, Duncan.

Though his eyes are gone, he turns his head toward me as I draw the Colts. He gives a single, pained nod, and the pistols roar in my hands.

Whoever set the fire needs to die. And they need to die hard. #supernatural #paranormal

Damn.

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They fought like hell.

There was no time to get the Colts out.

The troops swarmed out of the ruins, armed with torches and cutlasses. Whoever they were, they knew how to deal with my family and me.

Cut off a limb and cauterize the wound. Takes a helluva long time to recover from that.

I had no doubt those heavy cutlasses would be aimed at joints and that the torches burning brightly in the cloud-dimmed land would serve to immobilize me for the killing blow.

I had my war club in hand when they came sprinting toward me. They were young men, each in the prime of his life. Their eyes blazed as brightly as their torches, and there was a fierce eagerness to destroy me in their every movement.

The first to reach me had his cutlass raised overhead, his face a mask of fanatical loyalty and devotion. On his lips was my mother’s name, and it died in his mouth as I shattered the side of his skull, sending shards of it into his brain.

He dropped and his comrades, surprised, stumbled over his body.

It was the only opening I needed.

I didn’t bother with the Colts or with the Bowie knife.

I’d killed plenty of men before with the war club, and I’d gone raiding with it when I was just a boy. At the knee of my father, I had learned to kill, and I was going to show these men that I’d learned my lessons well.

Every blow I landed struck a joint.

Knees were crushed, shoulders knocked out of sockets, hips destroyed.

Men were left paralyzed and howling around me.

I stepped on bodies and piled the same around me. Men struggled to reach me, and I shattered rib cages and jaws, collapsed orbital sockets and ruptured groins.

I was here to deal death, and they thought they were there to do the same.

It didn’t take them long to realize they needed to survive.

But by then, it was too late.

I left the wounded screaming on the ground, and I chased down those trying to escape.

When I finished, I dragged the living to the ruins, and with their cutlasses, I crucified them to the wall.

I scalped the living and the dead alike, and when I finished, I set them all afire.

I’ve no mercy for any who wish to burn me.

#supernatural #paranormal

A Challenge

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He challenged me.

The house had, by all appearances, been on the island for some time. I suspect the soldier standing at the doorway had been waiting for just as long.

When he saw me, his nostrils flared, his eyes brightened, and his fingers tapped against the sides of his legs.

His English, though heavily accented with German, was easy enough to understand.

“I am your death, Duncan Blood.”

I stopped, spat on the ground and peered at him for a moment. Then, in German, I asked, “That a fact?”

“It is,” he answered in kind.

“I don’t rightly feel as though I want to die now,” I stated. “Fact of the matter is, I’ve a bit of work to do yet. Check in a few hundred years from now, and perhaps I’ll be willing to oblige you.”

The man chuckled and shook his head. “Your mother said you were the worst of them. I can see why. You’ve no respect for your elders.”

“That’s not true,” I answered. “I’ve plenty of respect for my elders. You’re just not one of them.”

He smiled and took his right hand from behind his back.

The soldier held a long knife, his hand completely encased in a ball of bright steel. Spikes of varying sizes protruded from the ball, and I wondered what he thought it was going to do against the likes of me.

So, I asked him.

“I’ll crush your bones, young man,” the soldier replied. “Then I will gut you and use your innards as garland for the house.”

I drew my own knife, and as we advanced upon one another, his movements became smoother and graceful. He was a man born to the blade.

I wasn’t.

But I can sure as hell use one.

The man lunged forward, and I planted my feet. I took the thrust of his knife into my left shoulder, felt the blade grind against bone and sever the joint as the spikes punched into my skin. The soldier twisted and grinned, but I’d already switched the knife from one hand to the other, and pain destroyed his grin.

He glanced down and saw the Bowie knife buried to the hilt in his groin.

He slid off the blade, dead before he hit the ground.

I used his own knife to take his scalp and stretched the skin on my rucksack.

Soon, I hoped, I’d add more hair to the collection.

#supernatural #paranormal

Brutality

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Rarely have I been so savage.

I have left the dogs at home. The ravens too.

Too many islands have sprung up at the edge of the lake, which itself has grown. The merfolk and the naiads fear to go into this new place, and I do not blame them.

As I paddled across the water, I saw creatures lurking in the depths. A few rose up to see me, to peer at me with eyes of deep purple and mouths like nightmares. They neither knew me nor feared me, which I took as a good sign. Had either been the case, I doubt my travels would have gone so smoothly.

As it was, I landed on a large island and took stock of what I had. My ruck was packed for close to a week’s worth of hiking. I had a fair amount of ammunition for the Colts, my Bowie knife, and my warclub.

The island was larger than I’d been on in some time. Perhaps the largest to ever appear from the Hollow, and I had no doubt as to who was behind it.

Deus Canum might have been preventing my mother from leaving Gods’ Hollow, but he wasn’t stopping her from helping the Hollow to spread.

Not that it needed much assistance.

I’d walked for about half an hour when I heard the steady thrum of a body of troops marching in unison. A few moments later, I caught sight of the soldiers.

Like the other troopers I’d recently faced, these men wore uniforms I was unfamiliar with and carried rifles both new and strange. Their swords, though, I was all too familiar with edged weapons.

When the troops caught sight of me, they were called to a halt in French. They spread out and, at the order, charged across the small field at me.

None of them shot at me.

I can’t say the same.

I emptied the Colts, the revolvers thundering and tearing the air as the slugs tore through the charging troops.

When the men reached me, I was ready. Bowie knife in one hand and warclub in the other.

It was blood and violence, pain and terror.

They beat me with the rifle stocks, and I gutted them with the knife. Some stabbed with bayonets and knives, and I crushed their skulls. They grabbed hold of my arms, and I bit out their throats.

They died by the dozens, and when I killed the last of them, I went looking for more.

#supernatural #paranormal

Unknown

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The island was new.

It is not unusual for islands to appear at the northern edges of Blood Lake. Or on the western edges, either, for that matter.

Normally, they were small bits of land. Perhaps an acre or two in size.

This one, which appeared in the early hours of the day, was huge.

All of Blood Lake had expanded with the island, and from where I sat in the boat, the lake stretched farther than I had ever seen it.

The ravens had returned with a report of the island. They didn’t see anyone, nor did they happen to notice any birds or wildlife. The island, Edgard told me, smelled wrong.

I left the dogs at home, howling on the shore as I paddled away. If the island were as bad as the ravens had hinted at, it was best that I go alone. I could survive. The dogs might not.

I’d buried enough dogs in the past few days. I had no desire to bury anymore.

When I reached the island and dragged the canoe up onto the shore, I was struck by the silence of the place.

I was, I realized a heartbeat later, the only living creature upon it.

Of that, I had no doubt.

But just because there wasn’t anything living didn’t mean there wasn’t any danger.

I drew both Colts, double-checked the loads, and then stepped out along a well-worn path.

As I went, I passed discarded equipment. Bits of harness, canteens, tools to clean rifles. A few rounds of a make I’d not seen before, and kit much the same. I came across a few pieces of paper, but it was printed in a language so strange it hurt my eyes to read them.

I soon came upon spots of desolation. Burned grass and shattered trees, iron shrapnel and broken rifles. Charred flesh and blackened bones soon greeted me as well.

Soon, the desolation became wider, oases of unblemished grass becoming rarer.

Finally, I came upon a town.

Little was left of it, and those few buildings that still stood were mocking obscenities of what they had once been.

I didn’t need to see my mother’s name scrawled across a door to know I was looking at her handiwork.

I stood in silence for a short time and then turned and retraced my steps to the shore.

There was nothing I could do.

#supernatural #paranormal

King Phillip’s Island

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He was the fastest I’d ever seen.

We were back on King Phillip’s Island, and the fighting was hard.

The new troops had learned the lesson their compatriots had not. Dying in battle was better than dying at my mother’s hands.

Once more, we stood on the field, but neither the troops nor the Kinderzähne ran. They stood their ground and gave as good as they got.

I lost count of the number of dogs killed and wounded, of the ravens shot from the sky, and the bullets that slammed into me.

My clothes were nothing more than blood-soaked tatters, and I’d run out of ammunition for the Colts. I had my warclub in hand and the broken stock of a rifle in the other.

I was in the midst of the troops, pinned between a pair of them with bayonets keeping me in place. A pile of bodies was growing around me, and the men with the bayonets were afraid to let go.

They were right to be afraid. They’d get nothing close to a gentle death from me.

The sensation of steel scissoring through your innards is as curious as it is painful, and I was looking forward to making both men intimately aware of it.

As a Kinderzähne bounded over the nearest corpse, I smashed its head in with the warclub, and as brains and blood splashed over me, I saw the dog.

It was almost a blur as it leapt a trooper trying to bring his rifle to bear on it.

But the dog was too damned fast.

When it landed, the dog twisted and lashed out, its muzzle clamping down on the man’s knee and tearing it out.

In moments, dozens of other dogs of the same breed spread out over the field, driving the soldiers and surviving Kinderzähne into a small copse of trees.

My tormentors tried to run, dropping their rifles and stumbling over the corpses of their comrades.

It was of no use.

I tore the bayonets out and hunted them down.

I was denied vengeance as dogs and ravens assaulted the men.

Still leaking blood, I led the way to the copse. As the men and Kinderzähne hid, I took out my matches, found one that wasn’t damp with my blood, and set fire to the nearest tree.

As the flames spread, we waited to see how long it would take them to run.

I’m pleased to say it wasn’t long at all.

Punishment

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My mother does not accept failure.

We landed on King Phillip’s Island in the far northern portion of Blood Lake.

The naiads and merfolk had agreed to a truce, and so they had helped guide the flat-bottomed bateau from the old boathouse to the island. Brutus and his comrades had been in one, some of Miriam’s in a second. I’d gone forward in my own canoe, ammunition and my warclub, my sole companions.

The naiads and the merfolk, like the dogs and the ravens, wished to drive the Kinderzähne and any of my mother’s troops from our lands. The ravens had discovered a camp of both on King Phillip’s Island, and they had reported back to me.

I had spoken with the queen of the merfolk and the council of elders from the naiads. Our plan was simple. I would land with the dogs on the southern shore of the island. From there, we would drive the troops and the Kinderzähne back until they were on the edge of the island. There, the enemy would have a choice to fight or seek refuge in the water and attempt to escape to the Hollow.

They would not make it.

Merfolk and naiads would be waiting.

The enemy would be drowned, and their flesh would feed the merfolk.

When we landed, I took the center, and Brutus anchored the right wing. One of Miriam’s hounds anchored the left. With the dogs strung out between us, we moved forward through the long grass.

Soon, we came into contact with the enemy, but only the Kinderzähne stood their ground.

The troops ran.

The howls of the dogs served as a chorus to the death chant of my Colts as we butchered the Kinderzähne.

As we fought, the ground shook, and the screams of dying men drowned out the sounds of battle.

At first, I thought the men had reached the water, but as we crested a short rise, I saw the troopers laid out in the grass. Their deaths had been quick, though I doubt painless.

My mother’s voice ripped through the air.

“Cowards.”

As much as I hate her, I have to admit I felt much the same way.

I’ve no use for cowards.

No Blood does.

In the cool breeze that sprang up, the dogs and I dragged the corpses to the water’s edge.

The merfolk still needed to eat.

#supernatural #paranormal

An Envoy

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He was damned dapper.

After the demi-god’s destruction, we had a few quiet days. Not so quiet as to allow the dogs of Deus Canum to leave, but quiet enough so that we didn’t have to worry about an attack on the farm.

As our fourth day of relative peace began, sounds of fighting rolled across the lake and made their way to me. I’d no sooner finished my second cup of coffee and was considering where to hunt next when a knock sounded at the back door. When I opened it, I found Edgar there, preening beneath his right wing and glancing over at me. 

“Bit of a curiosity, Duncan,” the raven stated.

The sentence took me aback. “A curiosity?”

The bird nodded. “We checked on the gunfire, turns out it’s, well, it’s difficult to explain.”

Now, I’ve never seen him at a lack for words. Nor did I ever expect to. 

“I’ll confess,” I told him, “you’ve piqued my curiosity, Edgar. What’s going on?”

“You’ve a guest,” the bird answered. “He’ll be here shortly.”

The barking of dogs distracted me, and as I turned to look, I saw a pair of hounds come bounding in from a lake trail. Their tales whipped back and forth, and their tongues lolled out of their mouths. I was about to ask what in the hell was going on when the answer stepped out after them.

He was a big dog. Not as tall or as thick as Brutus, but he was close in height. He wore a three-piece suit with a top hat and a beautiful jaeger pipe clutched between his teeth. When he reached me, the dog offered a low bow.

“Mr. Blood,” the dog greeted. “I am Lord Erasmus, and I am afraid our ship ran aground passing through the lake. As I am sure. You heard there is a bit of gunplay right now.”

“I heard it.”

The dog smiled, and the pipe danced in his mouth. “We seem to have run into a small platoon of soldiers, ostensibly under the command of your mother, and they opened fire. We should make short work of them. I was sent along to apologize and to ask might we have the dead?”

“By all means. Enjoy it.”

Lord Erasmus bowed again. “Many thanks, Mr. Blood.”

As the dog took his leave, I was left with one question.

How in the hell did that pipe stay in his mouth?

#supernatural #paranormal

The Demi-God

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He came from the Hollow.

How my mother managed to summon a demi-god and get him to do her bidding is a question best left unanswered. I’ve seen the spells she casts, and I know the blood magic she works. None of it is good, nor has it ever been.

This demi-god strode out of the Hollow, bellowing my name in a voice that shattered stones and shook the earth. By the time he reached my drive, I had a headache and a fair head of steam built up. My Colts were in hand, and the animals had scattered. The demi-god’s voice was too powerful, and so they’d taken Jimmy Elroy and the pups away with them.

On either side of the drive, the trees leaned toward one another, weaving their branches together and sending the demi-god’s voice back to him. Apparently, he disliked the sensation as much as I did, and by the time he reached me, he was muttering to himself behind a wooden face.

“Your mother would have words with you, stepson,” the demi-god stated.

I raised an eyebrow and cocked the hammers back. “I’m not your son, step or otherwise, and I don’t much care what my mother wants.”

The demi-god took a step forward. “You’ll do as your told, child.”

My thumbs settled on the hammers of the Colts and eased them back. “You best run along to your wife ere she tugs on those apron strings and brings you back.”

The snarl in his voice caused leaves to curl above us.

“You, child, shall learn respect and to call me father.”

As the last word left his lips, the Colts thundered.

Round after round slammed into the demi-god, blowing chunks of wood-like flesh from him. Dull brown ichor seeped from his wounds, and he stumbled back, surprised at the attack and the power behind the .44s.”

“No,” he gasped and tried to shield himself from the slugs. He only succeeded in offering up his arms for sacrifice, and I took them gladly. One was blown off at the elbow and the other at the shoulder. As he looked down at his severed limbs and tried to comprehend what he had experienced, I reloaded the Colts and walked forward.

The demi-god looked up as I put the barrels of both Colts against his forehead.

“I have a father,” I told him and pulled the triggers.

#supernatural #paranormal