Legend says that the draugamunninn were once human. They were a practical but severe people who after suffering one terrible winter too many, and after failing to feed themselves with their own hands and their own labor, began to pray to their old gods for relief. But their prayer was not answered by a god.
It was answered by a demon.
Naomi clicked on her recorder, took a deep breath, and asked her grand-aunty Z about the one thing that her mother and grandmother told her to never, ever, never, never, ever ask her about.
“Aunty, what did you see when you went into Mausefalle Manor? And how is it that you got out when so many other people never did?”
Panofus spoke the last words of the spell and flicked his raised fingers in the proper precise configurations. As he did, another sudden quake struck the tower. And the room filled with gasps and cries of fear.
One of the children in the group of unpracticed mages standing before Panofus pulled away from the old woman who was holding him.
“What about you?” the child asked just as he began to fade from view.
In those days, there were doctors of teeth already, just as there are now. And in those days, the doctors of teeth were avoided by most, just as they are now. The doctors did their best, just as they do now, the good ones that is. One such doctor of teeth did his best, but failed to root out the deep infection that had taken hold in his patient’s mouth, an infection that had seeped from the teeth to the gums to other teeth, and then began creeping to the patient’s brain and his heart. The man—the patient—was past middle age but not yet old. He died of that infection. A painful and bloody death.
When Cantor was a child, it was said that he was descended from Orpheus, who made flowers bloom with his song, who inspired trees to bend toward the playing of his lyre, who soothed the hearts of beast so well, they forgot to hunt their prey. Even Cantor’s crying was so sweet to hear that his mother had to stuff wax and cloth in her ears and watch his expression to know he was in misery.
“What agency are you all from?” the sheriff asked the group of dark-suited men and women who had just entered the building.
A tall dark-haired man in a steel gray suit stepped forward and handed the sheriff a black card. The sheriff looked at the card. It was blank. He turned it over and found another blank side.
The man introduced himself as Joe Chan, then named the members of his team.
Agent Chan explained that the black card was keyed to the sheriff’s thumbprint and when pressed would show the needed contact information. “Once you verify my credentials, I’d like to have a briefing on the latest attacks.”
I can hear it moving, I think. It’s hard to tell with the other noises. A car whooshing by sometimes. Some cat moving through the bushes outside. A neighbor went to the bathroom a few minutes ago. I jerked when I heard the sound of the water moving through the pipes. If I squeeze my eyes shut and focus, I think I can hear it breathing.