Chapter 1: A Buzzard’s Circle
Ours was a small town, but shrouded in dark secrets, and steeped in bad, bloody practices. The forest around us was cursed and haunted with the spirits of burned witches, tortured slaves, and small, shallow graves full of the indiscretions of the town’s self-proclaimed holy men. They sometimes paid unholy men to rid them of those indiscretions for good, or to see to it they didn’t stay anywhere close.
The man who was now responsible for burying them all seemed himself to never age, though he was clearly on the other side of youth. He worked alone, and hard.
Overall, he seemed fit enough, and did the job well.
Of course, being quiet and aloof he came under suspicion, though he seemed a naturally quiet man content with his lot in life. His reluctance to offer any sort of consolation to the grieving seemed more out of surliness than a quiet personality.
His name was foreign and difficult to pronounce for our plain tongues, and though no one knows or remembers who started it, he was nicknamed ‘Buzzard,’ because he seemed content to dwell there among the dead, though a house had been purchased for him in the town proper.
He set up a room in the sexton’s workshed and slept there.
Being under suspicion for his ways, the town council tested him by sending prostitutes, con men, and the occasional bounty hunter, to see what his character was made of and how prone he was to bribery’s corruption.
All of them returned quickly, having been rebuffed in a quick and efficient manner.
With the hunters, some of whom were offered a bounty for his head, not all of them returned; whether they died or got away is anyone’s guess. The ones who did kept their silence, and never came back.
The women cited the Buzzard’s intense scrutiny that bore through their fakery and chilled them to the bone.
His secrets were safe, whatever they were.
But the council was more determined than smart, and by the time they found out Buzzard’s true nature, it was too late.
2: The Final First Warning
At the time of the next town gathering to discuss bringing in and distributing the harvest, Buzzard showed up late and took a seat in the back. He paid no attention to the silence that fell over the Hall. He’d never shown up to a gathering before.
He looked at no one, and said nothing, but his eyes were all business.
He figured out what they were doing, and he came here to let them know he wasn’t pleased.
When the meeting was over, Buzzard moved to block the door, and those nearest him recoiled when his gaze swept over them. They recoiled a bit further as he spoke.
“This will be your only warning. Leave me be. I bury your dead, respectfully and thoroughly.
“Been doing it a long time, and I’ll keep doing it ‘til my own time. Leave it at that, and leave me be.”
No one said anything, and he stepped aside to let them pass, turning his gaze to the council in the front of the room, who decided to leave by another door rather than pass him.
A couple of them challenged his staring, but their nerves failed them. It was as if they realized he might do any number of things to them at any time, because they knew almost nothing about him.
Leave it at that.
It was too late. He piqued my youthful curiosity, and I had to get this figured out.
I convinced two of my friends to come with me to spy on him after midnight.
*art by bzitz*