The next morning I woke up early, after a long night of bad dreams,
with a feeling that something was definitely wrong. Mother was
already in the kitchen cooking the meal that had originally been
planned for Christmas Day; but the usual carols weren’t playing on the
radio, in fact it wasn’t even on, I could tell she’d been crying and hadn’t
slept much, also the delicious aroma of baking pies and other delicacies
didn’t accompany the smells of turkey, greens and baking breads.
“The family and everyone else will be here about 6:00p.m. for your
Grandmother’s memorial service and Christmas dinner, they did the
cremation last night so everything could be taken care of before the
holidays; Dad’s gone into the city to pick up Grey Wolf at the airport.
He did the milking before he left and brought in extra wood for the
fireplace but you’ll have to handle the rest of the chores alone this
morning. I’m sorry.”
“Are you going to be alright?” I asked between bites of the ham
and egg sandwich she’d handed me with a cup of hot sweet coffee.
“You look like you haven’t slept at all and with everything that’s
going on I’m afraid it might be too much for you.”
“I had trouble sleeping after your Dad left; I kept hearing noise
like something was outside the house; too much on my mind I guess.
Anyway Jane’s coming over with the kids about 8:00 to help out;
Missy can keep an eye on Katie and the little ones while Jane takes
over in the kitchen, I can rest for a while then.”
“Best finish eating and get started, it’s getting late.”
The sky behind the house was just beginning to lighten from black
to a murky grey when I stepped off the porch. The front yard, however,
and the path to the hen house where I was headed were still shrouded
in near blackness.
Turning my lantern up, I swung my arm left to right and then back
left again, like I usually do. About half way through the return swing
my arm stopped as my heart caught in my throat. Moving the light
back slowly to the right I thought I saw something big and dark slinking
deeper into the shadows beyond the penetrating beam of my light.
For several moments I stood petrified trying to convince myself that it
was a trick of my imagination and I really hadn’t seen anything move.
Continuing to have a tingling feeling at the back of my neck like I
was being watched I fed the chickens and gathered eggs then headed
towards the barn.
For the second time this morning I had to swallow the urge to run.
Frozen in my tracks outside the barn door I listened, hardly daring to
blink. There it was again, the same raspy breathing I’d heard coming
from Nana’s room the morning before but this time it was waiting for
me on the other side of the door.
I felt a coldness creeping through me that wasn’t caused by the
winter morning: flinging both doors open to let in the maximum
amount of light I rushed to the overhead bulbs and turned them all on.
Using my lantern to penetrate every shadow and carrying a pitch
fork as a weapon I checked every inch of the interior before finishing
my chores quicker than I ever had in my life By the time I’d finished
the chores and got back to the house Jane and the kids were there and
Mother was in her room resting.
“Come sit down and eat something,” she called as I was pulling off
“Your Mom said go in Nana’s room and bring out the packages
that are in the closet and under the bed. Go ahead and put everything
except the ones that say ‘from Santa’ under the tree to open tonight
while the family is here, also bring out the box marked ‘Yule’ that is
sitting in the rocker. Then you can take your bath and get ready – she
said wear your tribal outfit – the guests should start arriving around
4:30 and there will be people in and out all day to help so I probably
won’t need you before then.”
As soon as I finished breakfast I went up to my room and picked
up the medicine pouch I’d inherited and hung it around my neck
then headed for Nana’s room. I’d started pulling the packages out of
the closet to sort when I remembered the letter and stuck it in my
pocket before picking up an arm full of packages and heading for the
“What you doin, Trebor?” Katie and the twins chirped in unison
when I walked in.
“Need some help?” Missy asked at the same time.
After explaining about the party Missy and I finished bringing the
packages out and I left the girls to arrange everything under the tree,
with Missy’s help, while I went back into Nana’s room to pull out
a small chest shoved way back in the corner of the closet that I had
* * * * *
“Things are worse than we thought, you need to read Autumn
Songbird’s letter soon.” Said the voice I was becoming very familiar
I looked up and saw a beautiful lady dressed entirely in white with
Raven colored hair and eyes of sky blue.
“My name is Ananna Lei. I am a friend of your Nana’s. She has
asked me to come and warn you since she is not yet able to transverse
the portal in person,” She said holding out her hand.
“Come here, TK,” she said still holding out her hand since I’d been
struck dumb by her appearance and hadn’t moved.
“Look out there at the tree line. See that shadow, the one that looks
darker than the rest, there next to that big oak?”
“Yes, but what’s so unusual about it?” I asked, having found my
voice, even though my gut was screaming ‘It’s NOT just a shadow.’
before I even asked.
“Just watch. You’ll see in a moment.”
A few minutes later I jumped back from the window as a lightning
bolt of fear shot through my entire body.
“It moved and I saw eyes – glowing red – horrible eyes.”
“Keep watching,” was all she said pointing her finger towards the
spot where the eyes had been.
The shadow slivered closer and I saw the eyes again, then it seemed
to elongate and take on an almost human shape. Turning, it looked
directly at the window where we stood before dissipating into nothingness
in the light.
“What the….? What was that, I felt like my heart froze when it
looked at me.”
“A Scavigger, (an Under Land demon sent by The Dark Lord to
corrupt souls and steal magic).” She said.
Gliding over to Nana’s altar she selected three stones, the first one
– a large almost clear crystal – she placed on the window sill, the other
two she handed to me.
“The purple one is an amethyst, it needs to go in your Spirit Pouch
or your box, and the small one is a moonstone and is to be carried in
Reaching in her pocket and bringing out a bag of sweet smelling
herbs she sprinkled them across the window ledge and whispered
something under her breath.
“This will keep the demon from gaining entrance here – Grey Wolf
and Snowdrop will seal the perimeters before next moonrise,” then
she picked up the chest I had pulled from the closet and handed it
“Go upstairs now. Read your Grandmother’s letter and do whatever
it says. Be ready, you’ll be called soon –Goddess willing, you will be up
to the challenge. Farewell Prince Triand, we are now joined.” She said,
placing her closed fists over her heart: then she sort of shimmered and
Left alone in the room I took one more quick peek out the window
and went upstairs to get ready. Back in my room, I sat staring at the
envelope wondering what Nana meant by the words written on it.