He was not at all how Alex had envisioned him. To be honest Alex wasn’t sure what he was expecting. But it wasn’t the man that stepped quietly from the darkness into their view.

            Artiside was a very tall and lanky man, he almost looked like the crooked man in the crooked house from the books his mother had read to him as a child. Artiside was dressed in a very long and black cape that covered his entire body, and gave him the appearance of having no feet.

            It almost gave him the look of a guy who got beat up all too often trying to look like a bad ass or something. But when you got to his face it was clear this was a man not to be toyed with.

            His eyes were a deep almost black grey colour, and they were brooding and held the look of each of his visitors. The face was expressionless, but you could tell that at any moment that face could break into a harsh scowl of anger or hatred. There were worry lines around his mouth and on his forehead.

            His maw was unkempt, but not bearded, he looked like some renegade wizard to Alex, but he kept this to himself.

            In his right hand was held a cane, but on the top of the cane was a large glass ball, that to Alex almost seemed to glow an eerie green colour in the moonlight.

            Suddenly a bird cawed from the trees above, so loudly that it startled the three, making them all jump.

            Aritside laughed a deep guttural, almost mocking laugh.

            “Calm children, Rooker won’t hurt you, that’s just his way of saying hello,” Artiside motioned to the large crow above him.

            As if on cue of his name, Rooker opened his gigantic wings and flew down perching himself on Artiside’s left shoulder. He cawed again loudly at the kids.

            Artiside lifted a finger and softly petted the large black beak of the bird. Alex had a vision of that beak being used to rip apart the flesh of dead animals; maybe even dead humans.

            He swallowed hard trying to get rid of the vision. But found that it was getting even more vivid as he stared at the bird.

            Artiside looked at Alex with a cocky smile.

            “He only eats people who trespass on my property,” he said, catching Alex off guard.

            The other two shot him a look, and Alex just shrugged his shoulders.

            Artiside laughed again and Alex had the distinct feeling that he was being examined closely by the bird, those beady black eyes taking him in, flesh strip by flesh strip.

            “So Jack, what brings you to my humble abode.”

The End

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