“At some point, Eitri,” Bayard Rakoze, Mayor of Tagahir said tiredly before he closed the heavy wooden door for the night, “you will tell us what you did with your wife and boys. You know it’s the right thing to do.” But the younger man simply looked back him, the same way he had done for the past five months, without answering, and with a sigh Bayard closed the door and locked it.
After hauling himself back up the stairs to his kitchen, he hung the iron key on a hook in his kitchen and contemplated, for a moment, how he had come to have a cell – the village’s only “jail” – constructed in his basement. It had been a hard five months, hard on all of them, the shock of Amalia’s and the twins’ disappearance, Eitri’s firm refusal to account for them, even in the face of his mother’s tearful pleas. And what had come after … the ghosts, wailing their mournful moans … No one would tend their fields, and the oxen – never able to rest – were wasting away.
Even now, Bayard could hear the first echoes coming towards the village again. He stepped out on the front porch of his house and considered the dusty street, the worn homes, and the dark dark woods beyond. Somewhere in his house, Menno the blacksmith would be strapping on his armor again, lifting his warhammer again, and Bayard himself would prepare to stand with his old friend to beat back the spectral wraiths that haunted the town. For a couple of days, at least, until they came again.
Tomorrow morning, he would once again go into the cellar, in hopes of convincing Eitri to reveal his secret. Without it, there could be no rest for any of them – the hauntings had to be connected to Amalia and the twins, he knew, somehow. And somewhere, out in the woods, the young woman and her sons were hidden.