Raven Willoughby – Origins ~ A Fantasy by Dellani Oakes – Part 21

“That is quite a tale, Raven. This creature, what was it?”

“A werewolf.” His eyes met Uriah’s.

There was a little fear, but mostly admiration.

“So, that is why you fight like a man possessed?”

“You saw me?”

“There is a fair view from Lilly’s room. I had in mind that if you needed me, I would brave the swarm myself. What I saw….” He shuddered. “No man can move like you. Incomprehensible.”

“No human man,” Raven added. “I’m glad you didn’t come. I couldn’t have attended to them, and protected you. Lilly deserves you hale and hardy.”

Someone banged at the front door. When they rose to answer, they saw faces peering through the glass. Raven finished dressing and Uriah answered.

“There’s dead things out here!” one man said, awe in his face. “Is it over? Are they gone?”

Raven came out, smoothing his hair. “Many of them met their ends. We need to clear the dross and burn it.”

“I’ve got men coming to do that. They had to get their iron tongs and heavy gloves. We don’t touch them unprotected.”

“Very wise. I’m Raven Willoughby.” He held out his hand.

“I know your face,” the man said, smiling as he shook the proffered hand. “I’m Robin Cooper, a barrel builder. I am the unofficial leader round here dockside.”

“Folks call him the Mayor,” Uriah added. “Mr. Willoughby is here to set things right.”

Raven flashed him a look, but Uriah pointedly ignored him.

“I’ll do my best,” Raven said quietly.

“You’ve made headway with this,” Robin said, pointing to the stinking bones. “Ah, here are the men.” He made quick introductions.

Raven nodded, knowing he wouldn’t remember their names. The men, armed with iron tongs and heavy gloves, loaded the body parts into a cart.

“We take it outside town and burn it, cart and all,” Robin told him. “Make sure you get the small bits,” he cautioned his men. “We don’t know if even a tiny piece will bring ’em back, but why take a chance?”

“Why indeed?” Raven replied. “There were more than I’d anticipated. How many to you think there are, all told?”

“I never counted,” Robin admitted shame faced. “More like to run away, than stop and enumerate.”

“No shame in that. I accounted for twenty.”

“Twenty-seven by my count,” Uriah said as he examined the skulls.

“If you’re not needed for ought else, you should go get some rest,” Robin suggested. “Will you be at it again tonight?”

“That’s the plan. I’ll go to my room, and sleep the day away. Uriah, if you’ve need of me, leave a message with the innkeeper.”

“I don’t anticipate it, sir. Questions, and such, can wait. I think we can all agree that this takes precedence to all else.”

“Can we help?” Robin asked. “My men are nervous, but you won’t find a hardier lot.”

Raven shook his head. “It’s a job that few can do, I fear. I don’t doubt your skills,” he said, noticing that the men took slight offense. “I also don’t doubt your courage. But I was a warrior before I took to being a merchant.”

“Even the King’s soldiers couldn’t take them!”

“I’ve had some special training,” Raven evasively replied. “It’s not something generally covered in His Majesty’s Service.”

That seemed to satisfy the men, and they continued their job, checking carefully to be sure all the bones and flesh were gone. That accomplished, they took the cart outside town, had a priest bless it, and set it on fire. They buried the ashes in blessed ground, salting the earth after.

Raven went to the inn and asked for a bath and a meal. That accomplished, he sent his clothing to be washed, and went to his room, where he fell on the bed, deeply asleep.

At five in the evening, before full dark, Uriah came to the inn and woke him. They took a meal together and Uriah brought him up to date on the events of the day.

“Magistrate will be coming tomorrow at three, to the Governor’s docks, to see the ships’ papers. Thinking it unwise to have them unsecured, Señor Cortez set men he trusted, to watch over them. The ships are in dock until this is settled. His Grace, the Governor, is warming a bench in the jail.”

“I hope he catches sepsis from a splinter in his fat arse,” Raven snarled.

“Aye. Lilly’s mum sends her regards. She said business during the small hours, as been well off, due to the undead. They count on the sailors, but the captains are making their crews stay in their bunks.”

“That’s wise. Though I love the arms of a woman, I don’t fancy it enough to risk life and limb.”

“Nor do I. With the help of the Mayor and his men, we fashioned a sort of cattle press for you to use tonight. It limits their access, but doesn’t limit yours. I stood and swung a branch around to be sure of the reach. The wall’s a bit higher all around, and we blocked all but the port you used last night. If these creatures have an ounce of man’s wits left, they’ll learn to climb.”

©2021 Dellani Oakes

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