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Chapter 1- Tippy Toe Snatcher

Purpose . Most would find it hard to swallow the brute force of it at days end. But waking up seems to articulate how emphatic we are to get started. Me too perhaps. If it were my choice I prefer to sleep during the light time. The stars in my village so more promise of invigorating any one with eye’s and the love for it’s glossary of prominent illuminating beauty. So many vast worlds to see, I would picture myself hop-skipping from one to another. I imagine I’m bigger than its creation, holding a world of wonder in between my finger tips, before suckling on its significance. Mmmmm...Tastes like a delicious gumdrop no need for chewing in a hurry.

“WAKE UP!” The gouging words burst through my eardrums to me quivering at the sight of my aunt’s pepper-sprung cheeks. “I see, day dreaming again...When will you learn...Chop! Chop! My feet aren’t going to rub themselves.” Oops. So much for the delight of exploring the fabric of the universe since reality came knocking. I droop up from the inside of the idling carriage. My body felt well rested apart from my stiff neck. But before I can attend to my own stiffness my aunt’s feet gets imposed on me with it’s inflated lumber that never ceases to amuse or scare me. So it gets the pleasure of a rub-down first and foremost. This is my idea of a cruel awakening. You see the direct temperature from outside influences the level of malodorous you’ll smell when the kneading begins. Brisk to cold, nothing much of a stench but hot and bothered equals reek and rancid. And today is a scorcher for the record scripts. Torrid and scalding out there makes a simple chaffing a chore not deserving of me. But what is a young maiden to do when ordered to maneuver such putrid like toes. Another rule of thumb, one must be careful and avoid getting a scratch by the rigid nails too. A duel factor when it comes to her footing, but this stays between me and my fair hands alone. When did I fall asleep? Yes, I remember correctly, well the ride was so timid and dry my eyes grew boresome from the repeated scenery of Wolfwary’s green fields, the glistening lakes and wild pastures we’re in fact beautiful no doubt but enough was enough. Wolfwary’s full tittle if any one needed a light abbreviation, is coined the valley of a thousand hills. The humped up and down of the never ending slopes to the blind rises of the tops and taking in the consideration the gallop of the horses had that whisking away effect on me, momments later I find myself with heavy eyes oosing into a coma of dream. But in all honesty that was one contributing factor. These trips I sometimes loathe to a point but not the riding experience more so the company inside the carriage. Just laying about from from me was my aunt Gretel. She was stout in figure wearing her best dressed, in her own words the look of a high esteemed dignified yet prudent madam of fortitude as with her pompous hat and civil manners. But in all fairness just picture a brutish hog in evening wear. Enough said I have my reasons. “What was I thinking? Bringing you along, you good for nothing...sleeping on the barb. What about the bandits, trolls and vermin. You have to stay behind in case such controversies arise. I must not be eaten alive, plimerd or taking advantage of. Your the lookout! What do you have to say for yourself?” She said with a mounting brow of anger. We are returning from the market place south of our house and now onward to home. This however wasn’t the usual route. ’She’ touted we make use of the sort cut though the HagginBills pass. It was simply imperative that she had to hurry back as her ’Beauty Regime” takes about an hour or too completely dazzle all the attendees for tonight. And buy the looks of it, sunset is nearly at doors step. As too the importance of buying a new blouse, hat and Fiktory rose perfume for the all important occasion that will take place in the dim of dawn. Some kind of meeting in the guildhall this evening. Nothing out of the ordinary. This was a regular occurrence of the town folk to summit once a month in question. Lots of teas, coffee, cakes and a dash of gossip. Maybe the flavor of the month would be whose talks of life stalk were more productive. Who sold more cheese, who killed more opportunistic foxes with thirst for the coup. Blackbeard dragon spottings, semi fatal health ailments warts, joint pain, fungus, werewolf bite, plumped pimples, just the normal bantering old timers fluff about. Even though these banalities didn’t spark much interest at the timing felt off as one of the mayor’s stewards demanded all the presence of the whole town of Wolfwary on such urgent notice. This would be the second time this month I have to endore a meeting of cronies that only the concerned few would attend. Though I homed in on some discussions, not much of a mecob gets mentioned as nothing of that sort happens much In town. On the other hand there’s my aunt. Few reasons I ponder her attendance at these trivial but ought the not ’A waste of my time’. Her own words trust me. Was it too stuff her big plump face with the sugary spread of confectioneries or continue her profuses rant of attemptive courting of our esteemed mayor Sir. Wolf Wolfwary. I like to deviate between the two but the assurance I get from her nearly never missing a meeting breaks volumes.

The tell tale signs of us nearing home is the rocky path of discomfort. As it sends the carriage into giggling modus. “Land home Madam Gretel!” Our well versed carriage rider Mr. Mumble exclaimed. “Good, took you long enough...” Said aunt Gretel as she darts through the carts doors. Making way to the outhouse. “Get a move on you two! Mumble feed the horses, unload my things and Rebeka, run my bath and don’t be slouching off either!” She said as she continued her spurt to the outhouse doors situated to the side of the house. I should have warned her not eat 5! Mag Thistle pies...Or better yet. I shouldn’t. But really I should since it would be contradictory if I don’t, yes, since I’m in charge of cleaning the latrine. A lesson should be learned. Having an intolerance for something that delicious doesn’t mean that lesson is getting through my aunts hard-knock head or the possibility that she would listen to me or my advice or her troubled stomach. That one bite sends her rumbling guts from enjoyment to deplore. Just the wicked thought of my aunt squatting over that...No! No! No! Plus the sight of her sleeping in the buff at nighttime is enough to send chills down my spine. Doesn’t stop there as some people have the luxury of cleansing with wool or a fine soft patch of hemp when they concluded with the loo. Least I have the special courtesy of cleaning that material after use. While the rest of us make due with a wet sponge and pale. And after a cleaning of bed sheets, the carpentry and the washing of the walls, I have too say my adroitness is like the curse of a skunk having to wear it’s own defences. Some might already be in tuned that I was in her words “The help...” Yes, yes  and some may laugh all they want. Not my choice in the matter especially since I’m so related to my “Employer?” No, that doesn’t sound right since employee’s get paid a crumb or two. “She’s in hurry?” Mr.Mumble said as he reaches the top deck of the car. A visit to the market experience with my aunt had me carrying all the goods and dunking them on the carriage. “Tonights meet, no doubt” I said grinning. “ofcourse...Well miss Rebeka? Do you agree when Madam pops of our mode of transportation you hear the wheels exhale with certain delight?” I snickered with delight at Mr.Mumbles comment as it surely made sense. “That includes the Fin and Dosh". I replied in reference to our parched out steeds as the they lay parallel to grounds. “Right on! Right on!” Laughter on the job perks of the position of “The help”. It looked to be sunset closing in as we already prepared for a leap towards Wolfwary’s town house. After a vile intervention with the scrubbing of my aunt’s bare back, dolefully trimming her scrapped toenails, brushing her stubborn strands and a full bout with her corset that was crying out for help, who thought my skinny wrists would hold out this long, that’s why I think I’m deserving of a quick excursion out of the house, you never know, should turned out to be a good thing.

Our town was modest. Exteriors well relatively small in comparison to some other big cities to the north, south outwards. Laments of fire light the way as much of the town folk were convinced to come to this occasion. But I don’t know why? This many groves? Maybe it’s of an importance, then the barley shortage last year. Since nobody could stand to be sober at the hands of summers simmer. “Now you listen carefully, no embarrassing me among the nobles. You know the rules, so?” She asked with intimidation. “Yes aunt Gretel. Rule number 1. No talking with the ones above my stature. Number 2. Only come to your aid at your command. Number 3 and finally no digging for gold or display behavior befitting of a barn cow.” Every time I get annoyed even remembering these lay lines. Sorry, did I fail to mention my aunt is a council member? Another thing I hate in retrospect of being responsible for upkeep of her many odd-job beauty requests. “Good. Thought you well. One more thing, here...” She hands me hairbrush out of a purse kit. “When your done brush those dark split-ends or you’ll be the talk of the town. Carry on.” She said as I continued with her tensed upper body shoulder massage. Speak for yourself. My job is pretty easy. I do what I’m told or no breakfast lunch or dinner. I found that truth the hard way. Don’t get my soft demeanor fool you. I thought about “It” many times over. A rumination of her standing on a low dropped hill, just a push of my finger would do the trick. Or maybe I should put in a little extra ingredient when I prepare her goat milk cheese surprise. Milk is the primary focus but maybe another sour tasting liquid from the animal would go down just as well. But before I end up doing the wrong of most the lowlies locked in the town pen. I have a job to do, my aunt’s bolder blades aren’t going anywhere. Tip, use as much aggression with the knuckles cradling to the point where your feelings of anger peaks with satisfaction and a brief expected complaint should ensue... “Ouch! No so hard! Be gentle...”  Revenge sweeter then the a dip of honey. Plus she’s as predictable like her mole hairs that grows back and beyond the control of persistent trimming. This ride was short lived. The carriage gets tied up with the many adjacent horses slurping away at the hall’s water shaft. In contrast to our horse backs you can’t blame them for being out of breath. Heavy load they dragging. Inside the town house it was filled to the brim. Many taking there seats as the start of the affair was coming closer to commencing. Burbling as the question about this exchange was a hot topic worth discussing. Me and Mr.Mumble took our seat on the back row of the coterie. Aunt Gretel took her residing seating front and center with the rest of the overseeing council members but she alone was locking eyes with the one and only reluctant Sir.Wolf I don’t know what’s more excruciating. Getting prowled by a Bog bear or getting the bite of love from my aunt? I vouch for the latter. At the hiss was beginning to die down after Sir.Wolf stood up from the ambo stand. This was normal in occurrence but my eyes were focus on a row of five obstinate chairs affront the court. Empty but strange. Ow well maybe the previous deceased powers in charge would be getting a sitting as these hearings could do with a bit of excitement. “Guess this assembly getting started.” Comments Mr.Mumble. His word holds true as Sir.Wolf raised his hands to signal a quiet down. “Greetings. Greetings. I see my extended invitation has reached your attention.” He started with his waft about attitude with that toned top hat only Sir.Wolf knows best to do. “Get on with it!” Said a crowd member. “My pot slush gizzards are getting cold!” , “Yah, get a move on you old coot!” Said another. Not everybody pays the appropriate respects to our leader in charge. That’s what happens if you raise the taxes every quarter. “Very well, very well. As you might agree this is a rather unusual circumstance. But there was no time to wait...I have regretful news.” At this time the room grew cold with anticipation. “Well! What is it?” A crowd member spills at the top of her lungs. “You see our town... uh... Wolfwary is...” He stutters. “What!” The room questioned. “Under attack!” The crowd gasps with bewilderment. But attack? My mind spun with a quiver of questions and I think the crowd followed the trend.

“Attack? Wolfwary? Speak up you blithering idiot!” An oldie from the front enquires. But I knew that oldie, by the shell of it everyone knows him. Mr. Fendrel, the local drunk. Whether it’s plowing a field, hammering away at a nail or just tying his shoes, his flask of strong liquor is already inside him. “Yes, you heard right...” Now Sir.Wolf’s behavior was in itself a forfeiture to the degree of his verbal exploit. This sudden bewail will not be easily remised. “Enter! Bring them in!” He demanded. The town-house doors swoosh open as a what looks like a normal band of a family shows they’re faces. Interlocking they’re hands as they move to it. But momments later they resort to a limp-skip motion. Threading to the directory of the Mayor. “These are the Boucher’s. They live just a hair off the outskirts of town.” Sir.Wolf explains but only received raised eyebrows. They then preceded filling the lackluster of chairs one by one. “As you can see, they are but a normal family of sheep farmers, but my brethren there has been a foul evil that befallen them at the height of the full moon last night.” He then gives a well endowed knod to what I presume to be the father figure of the kinsmen pressed up against the chair nearest the court. The light was shinning ever greater as I now observe even from my span of distance the pain the father, the wife and the children are in. A young boy maybe the youngest, welling up with tears as his mother tries her best to quell the visible saddening his enduring. But what? I see no visual representation of any superficial inflicted harm on the boy at least from where I am sitting. “Now! Feast your eyes!” Sir.Wolf howled. The father gripped his left leg loafer with sequel of agonizing pain. HIS FOOT! HIS BIG TOE! BLOODIED! MISSING! GONE!! The crowd shrieked at the gruesome sight. Fomenting a stir up of mixed reactions both searing with repugnance. Some bode to aversion as the off-putting trepidation was too much of a outrage to stomach the disgust. “My Word!” Aunt Gretel yowled out with the rest of the council following suite. One by one the other family members does the same sequence as the father instigated. The wife’s Big Toe. GONE! The older twin girls Big Toe GONE! Last but not least the small young Boy’s Big Toe. Gone! Amiss! Gory! Blood curdling!!! “They’re toes!” , “It’s gone!” , “What in the all the realms!” Shouted the company of baffled spectators. “It was dark you see! First my little Allen called victim to its gnawing!” The father explains with his eye lids pouring out his soul. “But then, it came back! Back for more you see! We couldn’t move! We couldn’t fight back! He licked it! Admired it! Are screams were ignored, this thing had no soul its eyes as red as the gauze of my severed tippy toe!” He squeals out with utterance of despair. “Don’t you worry Hershel, this defilement will be dealt with, if it’s the last thing I do. Your a brave man... Now please stop the sobbing and be brave for your family’s sake.” Sir.Wolf consoles with words the father takes to heart. “Ai good Sir...” That’s one person worth consoling but what was he going to do about the other eyes filled with dismay and mass hysteria? “We’re all doomed!” Cried a member. “No! No! Not my big toe!” Moaned another. And yet another scuffle of uncertainty continued. “Don’t fret, don’t fret! Quite down please...” Sir.Wolf implored but his plea stood on hollow ground. “SHUTTT UPPP!!!!!!!” Shrieked my aunt Gretel. It was too late too cover my ears. This time her voice surely broke the tension and all of our fraught. I guess that ear-splitting blare was good for something. “Thank you, thank you...” Sir.Wolf meek as a lamb when aunt Gretel chimes in. This brief boom pacified the meeting. “Like I said, there’s no need to fret...” He explains curtly. “What do you mean? GONE deaf, you heard what he said. It’s a creature!” , “Now, now. Don’t worry yourself, as mayor of this town a came up with a solution. The very answer to our problems.” Sir.Wolf said. “And that might be?” Asked the same oldie now petrified. “I have garnered the service of a...of a...of a Hemlock.” Just as the word passed judgment this incited the crowd into a whole new frenzy. But my thoughts were the same indeed. Mr. Mumble spoke of this...Hemlock...Slayer of beasts... Master of destruction...Also known for being the bringer of death...But more importantly but simply, a monster hunter. There tales spread fear among the camp fires. “A Hemlock! Are you crazed old man! Our town will cease to exist!” “Excuse me, but I think Sir.Wolf has a good reason for his actions...” Aunt Gretel speaks up. “Are you mad woman! A Hemlock! A Hemlock! And your on the council...Guhh” Mr. Fender surely didn’t know who he was dealing with. Or I suppose that was the booze talking. “Do I recollect you calling me a madwoman?” She asked with that signature streak of reddish wrath pigmentation. “Yes. yes I did! Putting a woman on the council. What’s next? Appointin a pig as treasurer?” The oldie replied confidently. “WHY YOU OLD CRIPLLED!!!” She jumped the bench to a immediate throat grab on the old man. Throttling fidently... “No! Gretel behave yourself!” Wolf intervenes with everyone else chimming in to subdue the tiff. But most of the men focused the attention on breaking aunt Gretels deadlock from the gaunt neck of the old man. Who’s churning a pale of blue from my aunts impressive strength. What’s going on. This night is more then I bargained for. Even with this danger of news I still feel like I’m not sure if I should be a concerned or in a state of disbelief. BANGGG! The front doors sway open yet again but this time my eyes blew up with scare. A big brown snout of teeth with a gristly pelt of fur scratched away downwards the Ile. Is this? “Monster!” The whole of the sect frill without warning. Just as I thought it was a Bog Bear. The biggest I have ever seen. Rump as big as the space between the split of strip. Why did I do it! Mention the one beast that causes the vast amounts of deaths in in the Murk forest, from hunters, gatherers and explorers alike. “Come on Rebeka safer at front!” Mr.Mumble grabs my wrist and with a quick scamper me, Mr.Mumble, including the former back row attendee’s were squished up with the other hotchpotchers fearing for their life’s. The idea of a second exit at the hall should be surely discussed ardently!!! Could it be? This was the creature that striked fear in our hearts not too long of a warning ago. The very creeper that bit of the toes of the entire Boucher family household? Is this “it”. The Tippy Toe snatcher? A Bog Bear? A thought or two wouldn’t allow it to come to pass. A Bog Bear like this size would send out too big of an intrusion. Let alone gain access to a occupied house and only ravage a insignificant part of its victims body, eg. A big toe? Not much sense I make of it. But there’s no time to ponder on this enigmatic thought. My heart was thumbing the speed of a pounding stags gallop... This was it! It’s here! It’s present! It’s going to rip us apart! “WHOA! WHOA! WHOA! QUITE NOW! YOU HAD YOUR FUN!” A boxed voice said out loud. Looking like the speech was coming from the Bog bear itself!

But I blinked with a re-glance and on top of the wide body back I was starring at glittering suit of armor. “GREETINGS! GREETINGS! KINGSLEY THE THIRD OF STOFFELFITCH, FROM THE KINGDOM OF VALOR AS A FORMER NIGHT THERE’S NO NEED TO FEAR MY FELLOWSHIP, DOOBLE HERE IS AS HARMLESS AS A... MEEK LAMB...” Just as the mystery speech ended a odd sound came from the Bog Bear, like the tone of crunching bones--his snout turned softer--his teeth puny --his frame grew smaller--hooves replaced his claws--his coat of burgundy was now pale in comparison. “Meeeehhhh...” It echoed. I blink as many times as my eyes can flutter as I know it was playing tricks on me. Where did the Bog Bear go? All but I see was a stinting figure of a small piddling meekish lamb. “Nahhh!” A loud thud! And a shriveled voice shrieked behind me. It was old man Fendrel flattened on the guild floor with my aunt Gretel perched atop his frail body as he was vouching for air! “Oh please! Please! Where is that scare of a Bog Bear! So it can put me out of my misery!” Me and Mr. Mumble quickly rush over. “Madam Gretel!” Mr. Mumble broached but it was clear as daylight she was out like a candle light. “Beka I have madam you’ll have to pull out the poor gentleman from under her, right?” He asked and I knodded in agreement. My grip was under his Mr.Fendrel’s arms. Mr. Mumbles back towards me. “Pull!” I obey the command and with the tug he was released from the weighted pressure of my aunt’s love handles. Even though Mr.Mumble’s was a old farmhand he still has that vivacity of a grit ox. “Thank you missy, surely hot under all ’that’ I must say...” Old man Fendrel said with relief as he was gasping for air. But my guess of him being tipsy was right, he smelled like a brewery. “No problem mister Fendrel she can be handful sometimes.” I replied. I then continue to fish out her hand fan from her purse. A little air should do her good. While Mr.Mumble elevates her legs. Have to help otherwise we would never hear the end of it. Looks like that freakish display made her faint with revolting impulse. But the poor old man was still gasping, his lucky to be alive, her weight in stone could be argued at another time but in the now the issue was the this strange controversy that spooked not only me but the partition ass well. No wonder nobody lendend a helping hand. The council or the orgy where just unconscious as aunt Gretel. Never seen her this peaceful, a point worth noting down. “Oopsie! Made a bit of a mess I see, either way 1000 apologies...” Yes, I wasn’t mistaken. It’s a suit. Not just a suit. A Knight in spaulding armour! But there is a teenie problem at the glint of this Knight in particular. Sure his got all the noticeable characteristics like a scarlet penacho, visor helmet, all metal greaves, nape guard with gauntlets and all. Cap to foot its a pass. I’ve seen them on the scrolls at Wolfwary’s library as reading is a means of escaping from the bustle of my aunt’s homestead. But the toes, A Bog Bear disappearing without a trace and replaced by a lamb and now this...But with this new edition it was sure worth an oggle. And surely I must be day dreaming again...As this Knight was undersized. To the same pint-size of the lamb his mounting. Surely this couldn’t be his noble steed? Looks odd as a pond-scum frog kissing the living daylights out of a stalk. “Sorry, late for the introduction... ATTENTION! ATTENTION! ATTENTION!” I gather its accurate to be a ’he’ the bravado articulates even though his visor . He then presented the door with a extension of his vambrace. “FINE FOLKS OF WOLFWARY! I NTRODUCE A MAN THAT LOOKED THAT DEATH IN THE EYE NOT ONCE! NOT TWICE! BUT MORE TURNS TO COUNT! A MAN WHO SOUGHTS TO EMBELLISH LIGHT OVER THE DARKNESS...TOO...UHM...” He the paused to take break. Clearing his throat. “Uhhm...A MAN WITH AN IRON CLAD WILL...INTRODUCING! YOUR HEMLOCK! PUT YOUR HANDS TOGETHER FOR HIM! THE ONE AND ONLY! YOUR SAVIOUR! SIR ASCARVADIE SORBO!!!” All eye’s was on the door frame and soon enough a tall dark guise passes through. In a black trench coat. Leather to be exact as it sheen reflects that of preserved atire its known for. With a thick troupish beard making a statement with a hash of grey and black. A veteran aged man with broad shoulders seamlessly towerd over everyone as he begins a hardy strut with the bearing towards us. His impression was impassive and straightforward. As with his stalwart appearance, rugged but able-bodied. Seasoned yet ardous. He walks like someone who would confront a veto by simply bulging through it. As his steps came nearer my eyes rest on another queer oddity brooding under his right armpit. His left-handed sleeve was just flapping around. Like a limp lump of hide. The reception was underwhelmed. But that serves as the right response to the many weird and whacky making you think you really have a serious case of the bonkers. He stops and turns to the Knight. With this silence impending you can even hear a faint sound of a pin drop. Whatever he’s going to say be sure the whole orgy will hear. “More. It’s too short. More valor...Make it more ecstrivicant, more Laud. And stop forgetting the words...just fix it...” He said and diverted his aim back to us. “I hear you...” The knight condones. The fan swept as much air on my aunt’s face but it doesn’t look she was going make a miraculous recovery but I persist. This swoon should be meant for Sir Wolf. But even him, occupied by the calamities. “Ah! So it must be you. Your him. Our Hemlock...” Sir Wolf goes in to give his hand to this stranger. “Mr. Sorbo it’s a honor sir Wolf Wolfwary, mayor of this pleasant town...” But gets denied the salutation instead the past master thrusts a bundle of red feather plumage into Sir. Wolf’s greeting hand. And just gives of a begrudging grunt. Yep not surprising, another person treating Sir. Wolf as a pushover. Just look at that, a same shade of a comb with wattles of the same features. It was a fowl. But not just any fowl. It had a small white parchment in it’s snatch. With a cluck here and a cluck there this was known as a carrier-fowl. A rooster with his hacles and spurs well equipped to deliver any message needed to be delivered. Any time any where. And I do mean ‘ANYWHERE’. Our way of reaching the far ends of any recipient we choose to contact. They are special breed of aviator; fast, intelligent, sharp as it’s crowing beek. I gather this was the way Sir.Wolf got the words out. That were in dire need of help. This ’Sorbo’ went pass the revels to the stand behind me. To the Bouchers to be exact. They were still bellowing. He pursuits infront of the small boy. Making eye contact with the bits and pieces of the neighbouring chairs adjacent to him. He crouches down to the boys foot and with a feel or two looked like he examining it. He takes a whiff of the wound. Shakes his head in disapproval. He then pats the little boys blondy hair. As if his saying in very few words. “Don’t worry lad...” With a turn he stands erected to the crowd. “Kingsley! Lock the doors! It’s a Ghoul!” He shrilled out. The coterie revolts with a bigger outrage. A Ghoul? The Knight known as Kingsley scampered to the town hall doors. He sealed it up. Nothing going out nothing coming in. And a last ditch effort he stand afoot the door. Cradling his arms like he was guarding it with his life.“You! Your the chieftain right?” Sorbo asked Sir. Wolf out loud. “Yes, yes a pleasure...” He reaches out for another salute “I know who you...” Yet again gets denied. “Now I know why you are interested in my services.” This Sorbo said with a voice so gruff it got the attentive of those who listen. “Glad you heeded to my out cry.” Sir. Wolf said with the look of flagrant concern. “MADNESS!” It was old man Fendrel that blabbed out. Which I thought he was out of breath but his relentless. What does it take to cool his sails? “You! What’s this I hear about a...a...GHOUL?” The old man tries to spire himself to the eye level of the Hemlock by raising his vantage. “Listen hear sunny boy this madness stops now! Who are you? Stop your messages of wicked dilutions! We are a town of quite folk. Fear Monger!” The old man was sure he got through the Hemlock. Maybe he did. But this dilution was no longer a unreal. From what I’ve seen. Both engaged in a stare down. Fendrel was definitely sizing him up. The old man was giving him the stink eye. Like he was forcing this Hemlock to submit. Like his wrong about his sudden unveil. The GHOUL in this case of overture. Then out of the buff the Hemlock protruded with a knod. The old man backs off grinning from cheek to cheek. “He then turns to us. “What in the heavens is going on? I ask you brethren? Who is this person? That abomination at those doors! Look! Should we wash out our eyes with a hand of salt or common sence? You choose! This talks of Ghouls. Of a creature? What creature? Sending us in a panic? No my fellows! Poor leadership! Miss information that’s it...All a misunderstanding. Yes! A dream! Should have never voted me out the council getting run by simpletons. GAH!” He turns to wolf. “And you! Is this why you brought us here?” He pokes Sir. Wolf’s chest. “ Bringing them here... roughhousing our town... our community...I should...I should...” He graps Sir. Wolf’s waist coat. In that regard the Hemlock flounces behind the old man with a striking blow to his temple the old man trebles to the floor. “My word...” Sir.Wolf shocks with the struck. “Theres not much time..Tell me is everyone gathered?” The Hemlock enquired. “Yes ofcourse, just as you asked...” Sir.Wolf replied. “Good. Makes this much easier then intended...” I’m struggling to get the mean of easier. What’s this stranger going to do now. Locking the doors. Knocking out wayward elders? Whats he plotting next on this extremist’s agenda? Surely something we won’t be able to fathom. No, don’t worry I’ts not like this was excitement for me but of novelty that I have never experienced.  “Citizens of Wolfwary as my counterpart explained my name is Ascarvadie Sorbo. I am your new presiding Hemlock”. He said but the people weren’t impressed still shell shocked for the most part. But who does this old bloke think he is self-appointing himself as our Hemlock. The powers in charge was the council, Sir.Wolf. No deal was struck. But Wolfwary doesn’t seem to mind this outlander launching orders out of thin air. But this aggravated situation must be a source of submissiveness. Ow well least I get to see a bit of trouble in paradise. Don’t hate me I’m a glorified servant by trade. I have a right to label this constituency as the greatest night of my life. “HELP! SOMEBODY!” A voice yeld. Yielding importance. It’s the Wife of the Bouchers. Sorbo rushes over to the rocking chair of the young boy. He was profusely twitching from the stem--foam frothing out the boys gape. Eyes turned over. “PLEASE HELP, WHATS WRONG WITH HIM?” The wife reaching out to the Hemlock. “Keep him still...” Sorbo instructed the mother and she was all ears. “It’s the venom, only the cursed fangs of a Ghoul can reek this havoc on his body...”, He explains. Now a gathering infused around the commotion. Spectating the spectacle. The Hemlock reaches inside of his coat pocket in return pulling out a rolled up kit full of tonics, vials and other increments with the looks of uses foreign to my intellectual dialect. His finger crossed over to pick out a transparent vial and with jerk of the cork he positioned it to the small boys mouth piece. A quick swipe to clear the froth. He forces the vials contents into the orifice. “What’s he doing?” The stock was curious. “It’s poison! Don’t let him drink it!” Another with a complaint. I was lining on the floor still fiddling away at my aunt but I could still do a good observation. “Yes...your spot on...but not poison, Coral croucher venom...Nothing more potent to burn the darkness flowing through his veins.” He states with a confident smirk. A few interludes later of what sounded like a dose of death. The child eyes reverts back to normal. His tremor died down. His impression calm and composed. “This tot will live...” The mother exhaled with mirth. And showered a smile of gratitude to the Hemlock. “Thank you fine mister...” She said hugging her youngling only a mother can do so well. “Here, drink up--” He hands over the vial of venom to the mother.. “From what I see. All of you are cursed with its bite...One sip, one swallow.” He said but the mother was reluctant. “Sir. Hemlock won’t this concoction be the end of me?” She asks with the worries I would also get if I’m asked to down a bit from a catalyst of venom. “No worries, purified by my own hands.” He said assured. And by his words. She believed in them.  Down the hatch. She passed it along to the rest of her distressed kin. With a guzzle per gullet there was enough to go around. With no one dropping dead. The spectators where in awe. This show of restoration restored, no, sets in stone the capability of what a Hemlock can do from the astonished looks I see from the once madding crowd. “Amazing!” Shouts Sir. Wolf. “Truly!” Said another. With a throw on the council platform he spurts up over the stockade. Looking down upon us likely to speak up again. “Now Wolfwary as you bear witness the dark wrath of this feind. I ask you to put your trust in me and with that your full and absolute cooperation. Are we in a agreement? Hear! Hear!” He asks us outright. “HEAR! HEAR!” We responded in compliance. He was pleased with the retort. “Ai. Ai. Before I was briefly interupted. Hear me now. Your township has a pestilence. Your walls of brick and mortar have been breached. As an omen from the very chasms of the Eighth realm is most likely in our midsts...and there is a great chance it’s among you right this second...” The Hemlock said that left bitterness on my ears. This declaration started yet another blunder. An a iota of daunt spread through the gathering with some looking to their neighbors like they suspect they have the chops to be this embodiment of evil. No scarcity of fright, no shortage of alarm and no dearth of dismay was not to be seen. This is due to one place the Hemlock mentioned in his utterance. A place so void of light the shadow of death always lingers long after it claims its prize of hapless souls. Where the dark dwellers resides to forever walk on its scorched surface. “You all know of his lowly place I speak of. Take my words to heart and soul as I say the forces of good are nowhere to be found. The realm of fire and solitude is a place of misery of decay. Barren wastelands filed with the seeds of evil and darkness with a feud of hatred and no remorse. With the affinity of cold directionless wrath. Time does not exist in the realm of fire and solitude for time has direction and direction itself a fool in the realm of fire and solitude...” He ended. But this striked more fear in my being. “This interloper had the nerve and the cunning means to escape the clutches of the torment of that accursed land. Leaving his fait of damnation to cross over to the land so pure...This Ninth realm of yours...Makes me sick that such a disgusting doggone threads on this blessed earth of yours. And what of you? Do you agree with me that this invasion of peace and harmony is blesfamous in its highest degree!” The abeyant crowd invoked more grief over the situation as he said it with a look in eyes that prooved he was serious of his title of Hemlock. This is pertaining to the entire inhalation of any foreign disturbance that threatens the way of life. Like in many realms the First to the Twelfth. Order should be restored or kept in check. That would be another undertaking resting on the shoulders of any Hemlock. I read up on it by accident. But he was one of them, a protector.

“Back to the matter at hand, we have reason to believe it’s whereabouts are certainly here as some have had a unfortunate run in with the creature the next town over. So I have to do a enquiry of this sate of settlement. Has anything in the last moons occurred ? Anything people? Any unusual public tumult ? Non habitual behaviour? Anything that resembles this farce of evil?” He asked invasively. “Excuse Mr.Hemlock, but how do you know this for sure a Ghoul? Could just be rat that chipped of their toes...” Asked a young man from the din of crowd. “Bite your tongue! Peasant! My title of Hemlock should be more than efficient to know of these things...” He yeld angered be the dumbfounded questioning his abilities and aptitude. But just as he was done silencing the young man, he quirks up a smile. Like apologizing for his moment of outrage. This was strange. For my brief in counter of his persona he looked unapologetic. But you never know with these Hemlocks. First impressions matter in this small cuddle of Wolfwary. Like my mood swings are approved for the public sway. “As I was saying...Any bits to share?” He asked sincerely. But know one spoke. Looking to each other for a confession of out of place happenings. “No one?” He asked again. Still no peep from the pies. “Come now...Any? He asked again. “Sir! Someone has been digging up the graveyard grounds...” It was Sir.Sam our local gravedigger and custodian of the cemetery. “Yes! Yes. Talk lad.” Sorbo hissed. “Names Sam. I dig the grave of Old Madam Louis myself. But when the morning dram arrived. The burial box was busted wide open! With no Madam Louis inside!” Sir.Sam cracked out. “You! Where me mum? I’m still in mourning!” A mellow fellow said out loud. Must be his mother. Shame. “Yes. Great start indeed.” Sorbo said grinning. “What you mean?” The fellow follows up. “Ghouls feasts on the dead flesh. A delicacy.” He said. But that hoarse statement had the fellow frowning. “Anyone else? Come, come any discrepancies like that is welcomed...” He siad. “Sir! My daughter. My primp bundle of joy has been missing for weeks...” Another complaint. What’s happening? This one a woman suffering from a case of self-denial. And her tears were real as her plight to the Hemlock. A long pause ensnared. He didn’t answer right away. What was he waiting for? “Im sorry, but I think your daughter...” He starts. “FINE! Fine! Most likely. She’s young probably having a sleep over...” Kingsley interjects. “But where? Her friends dono her whereabouts?” The griefing woman said. “Well madam, not our jobs to fiddle the flock for missing chicks that left the nest. Moving on. Are there more abnormalities?” He dismisses her. I’ll add heartless to the list too. But how can this be? I’m so couped up in that house, scrubbing disses, waxing the floors, cooking cleaning, milking and mulling I have no sense whats happening outside the door of my house. If our town was ever under siege, I would be the last know. Would call it a home if it felt like that. But its my aunt’s house. Once you visit you can’t leave. Shame on me. “Hear, Uh Sir.Hemlock.” Said someone way in the back. He looked like Mr. Burney. The towns nightmen in charge of collection and emptying of the outhouse waste. He comes time around selective homes at whee hours before dawn. Because as you know that time is the hours of wake and with wake comes the movement all do. “Yes identify yourself and only speak if it’s concerning...” Sorbo instructed. “Yes. Uhm. Mr.Burney. Municipal nightmen. Sir. Hemlock.” , “Yes, anything to add?” , “Yes. I think Sir. You asked if anything unusual happened. But in my line of work nothing really of the short...”. “That’s for sure! All he does is inhale the aftermath of my roast duck dinner!” A brief laugh ensues as his job was not as noble as the rest. He was bound to be make fun off. “Silence! Buffoons! Look !” Sorbo pointed to the bouchers, I think to the injuries, maybe letting them think laughter might not be so fine if your toes are nibbled of. “Continue nightmen...” He adorned.

“Thank you, uh yes. Lately sir. My workload has been cut in half. Not that my services or business has received a knock or anything like that, but the dunny cans keep showing empty?” Mr.Burney said but his impression was like he was conflicting with his sentence. “Emty? So? That’s what you do am I right?” Sorbo enquired. “True Sir. But what I find rather odd is I’m the sole person in charge of the clearance of the grimy roundhouse with most the buckets in this this town I glanced down to check the sterns but no drooping of ordure was to be found. Now is this a matter of the people having the mind to clear it them self’s well I don’t know sir?” He said perplexed. “Well? People of Wolfwary? Have you been Clearing out your dejection from the rear yourself?” Sorbo asked curtly. Everyone wiggled to the east and west suggesting a hard no. “Good. We are getting warmer...” Sorbo glades a smile. “Excuse me? But sir, can you explain where the excrements went?” Mr.Burney asked curious. “Yes and then some...A Ghoul is a creature with a inclement to anything foul smelling. Whether it’s your rotting garbage or stink filled toes that’s It’s nature...” Looks like my aunt has a high chance to fall victim from a visit from this Ghoul. “Your guess is as good as mine to what happened to those buckets of filth. Mine is he uses it for certain cosmetic reasons...” Sorbo said. “My gosh...What a vile creature.” Mr.Burney replies stunned like stone. “Yes. Yes. Let me go over more of this scroot.” Not a premature assumption but I have a strong feeling this Sorbo has a deep detestation for this monster. In the noticing of abundant flowery discourse of blatant remarks. “To tell you the truth we have been after this annoyance for quite some time. Slips through our fingers just as we were about to reel him in to deliver the final blow.” I was right. This was personal. This sudden unravelling begs the question. Are they as good as they come in the matter of the actual catching of any monster, beast or fiend of the night. That’s the pressing issue I have. “It’s motives are simple to feast from one village to next, from one hamlet to another. No shire too small. No city or town to big. That’s why I would like to do a specific test to flush out it out...”  Sorbo proposed. But a test? What’s this test I hear of. “Sir.Sorbo? This test? Does it involve we have to drink a vile of venom?” Sir.Wolf asked. “No, if your hearts in the right place, you’ll pass with flying colours...” Sorbo said and then preceded to dig inside his coat and what came out was a reveal of a single blackened shoe. He keeps footwear under his coat? Noted.