They talked. The strangest group there ever was of four creatures of childlike stature. Their eyes wide on the man that sat across to them. Well, in reality, it was he who talked and they listened. He were their patron, showering them with words of value, of truth, which is valuable. He said many things, spellbinding things, things only he would say. They were also words of truth for if there was one thing all four of them had learned is that he always spoke the truth. He was also the handsome sort, with a fair complexion; straight nosed, tall, and well built. The opposite of them. He was a rare breed, in these parts. Yet, with all his fairness, he hid his face under a hood. His visage always partly shaded wherever he sat or stood. One would never see his true countenance, not at once. But they, who had listened to his words of truth on many occasions were not concerned with his appearance but what he said, what he could do!
There’s a reason they believed his words and it was because he never said what he couldn’t do or show. There’s profit to be made from his words that danced from ear to ear, their grotesque deformed ears… The room was dimly lit by the hearth of the fire place and murk from pipe smoke that surrounded them in a mist. It was starting to get cold, or maybe it was his words that made them shiver, for this day he spoke of terrible things, things gruesome and void. And what we have already established, he only spoke the truth, which made it all the more terrible, terribly real!
There was a peculiar quirk about his words and that was they could never be recounted. They were words one felt. You didn’t hear them, not a singular word but the whole tale at once. It lingered and only they knew what was said. The stranger left that night, like he always did at the first howl of the night, and left the four ugly creatures to lament. They looked at each other. They knew what the other thought for they had heard the same thing, and they were friends, at least as friendly as creatures, such as them, could be. On the left end of the table, smoke rose and evaporated from the lips of one of them, the one quickest to words, and he said. “He must die.”
The others knew this as well, and nodded slowly in agreement. But the question was how and when? Next time, they agreed. The next time he came to speak, and they to listen, the stranger would die. Then how was he to die? With the means that they were able, for they were all able. Even creatures as small has them had their own ways to make problems go away…
The night came and they acted well enough, as if nothing was out of the ordinary. It was not a difficult feat for whenever they gathered they simply listened, and they listened, like always. And it was in that moment they realised: the ‘when’ and ‘how’ had been determined, but ‘why?’ Why had he to die? Like the strangers tales, it was felt, not understood, and now when they heard his words once more speak of pleasant things, their determination wavered. Why must he die? A man who made their hearts stir so? The only thing they knew was that he must. And so, as they were creatures of emotions, they struck the moment the wolf howled, breaking them from the strangers spell.
The one nearest stabbed the stranger on the side with a long nail hidden in his coat. The one on the left, furthest away, threw acid on him and the one to the right simply stayed his hand, for he was last and he saw that there was no one there. And more horrifyingly, it was not air that they smote, but themselves. Dumbfounded they looked, blood trickling from their sides, their ugly faces melting away until they were no more but one, one remaining horrified and frozen. For a full day, he waited, until there was night again, and the stranger emerged from the shadows. The stranger spoke as nothing had happened, and the creature listened and was lost in the magic that was his words.
© Christopher Stamfors