Harry Lofthouse

I could feel the warm sweat seeping out of my skin, dampening my clothes as I tried to hold my breath. I had run, disengaged, and hidden behind to re-assess my options. A few tactics flashed into my head, all of them obsolete when up against this .. thing.. this horror .. that we just faced. What was it? A creature they used their evil godless magic to summon?

Any normal foe and we would have easily won, with no or little casualties. Any normal enemy and it would have been over in minutes. This was a matter of seconds. An invisible nightmare, my ears still ringing from its scream, my clothes caked in what I convinced myself was just sweat and mud, but fully well knew was the flesh, blood and bones of my comrades that seemed to disintegrate in front of me. My heart was in my throat, in my ears, pounding through my ribcage. I tried to control my breathing, my hearing was slowly returning. I wish it didn’t, the scream of that beast erupted from behind me, hawking across the air to its next victims… the helpless shouts, impacts, rips and tears coming from the remains of my men.. I wanted to empty my guts. To run. But I knew it would be hopeless. I heard something heavy crumple into the street next to the wall I had chosen as my temporary blockade from the light. The noises stopped.. only the crackle of fire and the rasping, wheezing final breaths of the unrecognisable soldier lying a stride from my feet. He was looking right at me, hand outstretched, one eye wide in horror glinting against the crackling fire light from the fenced boundary. I could only look at him, as his body slowly paled, his breathing halt as blood gurgled from his mouth, his hand gently drop to the floor and the petrified glint in his eye fade. Gulping and breathing shallow ragged breaths, I slowly peered around the side of the wall, blood stains, dark red chunks and countless lifeless bodies strewn across thr street, the firelight dancing with the shadows before the Spook, his apprentice and .. a cat? .. silhouetted against the witch pyre just outside of the cathedral came into view.

We came to anglezarke under order of the inquisitor, reports of a house belonging to the Spook John Gregory containing witches. Burn them. Holding them rather than killing them! Those spooks are on the side of the dark.

We burned everything. Pouring enough oil to ensure the blaze would engulf the basement full of horrors and last for days. But first we took the witch.

We stood staring at the top of the pyre. We were too late. Even with the help of Kratch we couldn’t rescue Meg in time. I looked up at my master… tears were streaming down his ragged face, his nose and lips twitching in a fury, his eyes red.

“Lad” Mr Gregory rasped out “I’m sorry”

Something had changed in my master from that moment. He had surrendered to fear, to hate, to vengeance… and the dark.

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