Roland listened carefully as the tolling of the village bell began. Every hour it would ring, from one ring two twelve rings, signaling the time. But sometimes…
“Yep, that’s thirteen rings. They need me out there.” Roland declared, looking with dismay at his throbbing foot.
“Well, It’s probably another spook. Use these.” Antes opened a drawer from where he was sitting at his desk and removed a stack of thin stone tablets. Scrawled across them were glowing symbols that Roland knew well. They were signs of dispersal, release, and warding. They were powerful signs, glowing with a sharp luminescence that must have taken days of sitting in moonlight to build up.
“Don’t waste these, brother. I spent hours getting the shapes just right.”
“Of course I won’t.” Roland said gruffly, sweeping up the tablets and heading towards the door.
A loud clatter rattled behind him, and as he reached for the doorknob he heard Brim’s voice, deeper and with a tone of warning. It rattled out a garbled message about magical disturbances and broken lines rapidly and with a tone of panic. It had been repeating the same thing for hours, stuck in a loop. Roland glanced back to where his stone servant was strapped against a table, surrounded by illegible notes and delicate-looking instruments.
Its stone slab of a head had been wrenched to the side, revealing an intricate pattern of shining runes inscribed inside its small, hollow body. Antes returned his focus to these runes, poking them carefully and sometimes scraping out a symbol or two from the stubborn stone. Roland couldn’t make any sense out of the jumble of glowing shapes rippling across Brim’s surface, but Antes expression burned with intense concentration and understanding at the lines of runes. Roland left Antes to his work, gloomily stepping into the light of day. He hated sunny days.
In the town square the village head was waiting, standing outside the church with the bell tower. A small crowd had gathered as well. As Roland pushed past he noted the telltale mixture of fear, excitement, and curiosity buzzing among the people. His brother was right: It was definitely a spook. Roland marched up to Thomas, the head of the village, who was tapping his foot nervously in the midst of the crowd. Thomas had always treated the presence of him and his brother with reluctant acceptance, considering the superstition they caused an excusable consequence during times like these.
Thomas confirmed his suspicion: there was indeed something standing just outside the fence on the southern part of the village, scaring away all the sheep. No one had dared to go near it besides the shepard and he had disappeared. After he had haggled a fair payment for the service, Roland set off. The walk wasn’t far. As soon as he turned the corner from the square and walked down the path, ignoring the attentive faces peering at him from house windows, the fence came into view.
It was hardly a fence. Made of wooden stakes posted in packed-earth, it seemed unable to keep out anything. But upon closer inspection, and with a sharp eye, one would see it shimmering with magic. Neat rows of flickering runes were carved into the sides of the stakes, markings denoting simple purposes of protection and warding. It wasn’t much, but it would keep most creatures out, worldly or otherwise.
On the other side of this line of stakes stood the spook.