During the night, around midnight, Allen begins to hear strange echoing voices chanting in a deep ethereal tone. Taken aback by the sounds he hears; a realization hits him.
‘Wait. These voices aren’t what I normally hear,’ Allen thought.
Taking a moment to quietly look around outside of the wagon he was sleeping in, being careful to stay as low as possible. The sound is so faint yet he picked it up. In the center of the caravan circle where the fire pit resides, the fire inside of it is only smoldering at this point of the night, yet there is another light source. It appears as if it is coming from the forest beyond the wagon circle.
Stepping out of the wagon, Allen quietly unsheathes kopfjägor. Jinx staying close behind him, almost silently. Moving through the wagon circle to the tent in which Father Henry sleeps, Allen quickly goes to wake him.
“Father Henry!” Allen whispers.
“What…what is it?” the Father asks.
“Listen closely,” Allen says worriedly, “Do you hear that?”
The priest takes a moment to listen to the sounds of the night. Allen can tell that the sound that he heard reaches the ears of Father Henry since his grogginess instantly vanishes.
“What is that,” Allen asks in a hushed tone.
“Sounds like Latin,” Father Henry replies, now lowering his voice as well. “It’s too faint though for me to make it out.”
“There is a small amount of firelight coming from the forest that is in the same direction of the voices.”
“Really? We need to investigate it.”
“That’s what I was thinking.”
“All right. Let’s go.”
Directly after their conversation, Allen grabs a crossbow and bolts that were sitting up against the caravan driver’s tent. Allen, Jinx, and Father Henry head off in the direction of the fire. Allen takes great care to watch where he steps, Jinx and the priest following suit. It only takes a few minutes for the three of them to make it to the edge of a miniature clearing with a fire crackling in the center of it. What they see before them is so disturbing, they could barely even comprehend what is happening.
There is a small woman, one of the women from the caravan, on her knees chanting and drawing symbols in the dirt engulfed by the firelight. From what Allen can tell, it appears as if the woman is lacking any form of clothing covering her body. Her skin is a pasty white with dry cracks throughout most of it and her hair is a rat’s nest of a mop upon her head.
Laying on the ground, on either side of the fire, are two bodies. One Allen recognized to be Jeffery James, the husband of the woman who had passed out. The other body belonged to that very same woman. Both bodies are tied down in an upside-down crucifix pattern. However, this is not what horrified Allen.
The part that freezes him to his very core is that the pregnant woman’s womb appears to be ripped open, her entrails scattered about. The husband appears to still be alive but unconscious. This entire diabolic scene nearly sent Allen back into his own mind, into the darkest reaches of his memories. It is only made worse by the slight cackling of the woman as she feasts upon something resting in front of her. The entire area clasps a stench of bile and rotten flesh.
Allen takes a moment to load the crossbow he borrowed and slowly drops to one knee, sticking his blade into the ground next to him for quick access. Lifting the crossbow up, He aims it directly at the woman. He only has one shot.
Her pasty skin starts to change color from white to a shade of olive-brown. Her hair becomes clean and almost silk like.
‘What the hell is she eating that can do that,’ Allen thought to himself in shear disbelief.
With his aim taken, Allen squeezes the trigger of the crossbow. With an almost audible crack, the tension string launches the bolt through the air at high speed. The bolt buries itself into the back of her skull, yet there isn’t any blood and she still sits there. Turning around to look at Allen, he can see the head of the bolt protruding from her forehead. She has the fetus of an unborn child hanging from her bloody jaws. As she opens her mouth to speak, the fetus drops to the ground half eaten.
“You dare shoot me, you vile whelp!” She says in a voice of unmatched toxicity.
“Aye, you sorry plague-sore!” Allen retorts.
Dropping the crossbow from hand, Allen grabs Kopfjäger and rushes the woman. He brings the blade, in a sweeping motion, directly into her side. She stands there as if it was nothing. She begins to chant once again and this time it is much louder than before. Standing behind Allen, Father Henry starts to chant his own string of words. The woman’s wounds start to bleed, as if her body itself is rejecting Father Henry’s words.
“Sick ‘er, Jinx!” Allen shouts.
Jinx starts at a dead sprint from behind him and lunges forth at the putrid woman. Latching onto her left arm, Jinx drags her to the ground interrupting her chant. With a deafening scream that could wake the dead, the naked woman begins to claw and strike at Jinx. Father Henry continuing his chant, reaches into his pocket. He pulls out a silver cross that is sharp on the bottom. He holds it out to Allen. Sheathing his blade, Allen takes the cross-shaped stake. Allen takes it in a firm grip from the top of the cross. He kneels next to the woman and catches her right arm and holds it down under his knee, while Jinx holds the other.
Allen stares down at the wretched woman with intense hatred and anger that would scare even the worst demons. Father Henry stays where he stands, looking over the shoulder of Allen, possibly fearing what Allen is about to do. Rain begins to pour, causing the fire in front of them to dwindle to nothing more than smolders.
“DID. YOU. SEND. THE. LETTER?” Allen asks, deliberately pronouncing each word to its fullest.
“I did not, but I know who did!” the witch screams.
Allen, now dropping to both knees, maintains eye contact the entire time so she knows just how painful things were about to get.
Very slowly dipping the stake into her sternum, Allen says, “WHO. SENT. IT?”
“Let me live and I shall tell you!” she replies, now petrified of Allen.
“Fine,” Allen replies in a low quiet voice, “Loose, Jinx, but hold.”
“I don’t know their name,” She says as Allen removes the stake from her chest, “But they are on a warpath and after y in Jamestown.”
“That doesn’t answer my question at all.”
“They think by bringing you there it will cause the other one to come out of hiding.”
“And who might it be that would come out of hiding if I were there?”
“I’m not sure but that’s all I know. I swear.”
“Thank you,” Allen says in a voice so quiet that it seemed almost inaudible to everyone but the witch.
Allen looks back toward Father Henry. The Father’s face shows the expression of disappointment. Giving him a very faint wink, Allen plunges the stake into the witch’s chest with all the force his body could muster. As the stake penetrates her chest, her body begins to convulse and shudder. Letting out a wail, similar to the one before, her flesh begins to take on the appearance of a burning log, smoldering and charring. Eventually there was nothing left but ashes.
Rising to his feet, Allen says, “I now believe in witches.”
“Good,” Henry replies.
“Something’s not right about this Father,” Allen says.
“What do you mean?”
“It was too easy to get information out of her.”
“Ah, maybe but who wouldn’t fear the cross when it’s about to damn them?”
“Aye, but even the newest of soldiers would’ve tried to deny knowing anything before telling the truth.”
“And that is where my expertise ends, but if you believe it too easy then we really need to get you to Jamestown now and save whomever these creatures are after,” Father Henry says as he rushes over to the disemboweled woman.
“Don’t try to save her, Father. She’s already dead.”
Allen walks over to the body of Jeffery James. While he unties his bonds, he comes to. Jeffery’s gaze drifts over to the body of his now dead wife, and the tears begin to stream down his face like a waterfall.
“NO! She can’t be dead. Please tell me she’s not dead,” he tries to shout, but it comes out as a hoarse whisper.
“I’m sorry, Mr. James,” Allen says, “We didn’t get here in time.”
“NO…NO. I refuse to believe you!”
Allen steps aside to allow Jeffery to see his wife in her entirety.
“oh God, Oh God, OH GOD, OH GOD!”
“I know, sir, I know,” Allen says as he helps Jeffery to his feet.
Walking over to the dead woman’s body, Allen picks her up, not caring about the blood that would stain his clothing.
“Father, please help Jeffery walk back to the caravan,” Allen says calmly, “I’m going to carry her back so we can properly take care of her.”
As they begin to head back to the caravan, Allen kneels down to pick the stake up from where he had left it. Jeffery continues to weep the entire way back to the caravan.
‘That won’t help her,’ Allen thinks to himself, ‘But I guess it helps him.’
— K. E. Oskold