They sat still in the dark cave, legs and arms crossed, eyes closed, awaiting instructions. They had many names. They were the knife in the dark, justice on silent footfalls, the burning wrath. Only a word need be spoken, and the price paid in full. Then, and only then would action would be taken. They could wait for decades in the dark, feeding on the vermin that scuttled across the predator’s path and drinking deep from the still waters that dripped down from stalactite-infested ceiling. Year after year until they heard it, the call, whispered in a child’s voice.
“Midcopse.” They waited, and heard the thunk of meat against stone, the vile crimson rushing down the steps behind them. They turned ever so slightly, seeing the body.
They nodded. “As you wish.”
The lights had long gone out in the farmhouse, alone on the top of the moors. A thick mist had swept over the valley, settling on the wheat fields and making the few street lights glitter. The night sky was clear and filled with stars, no sign of the storm that was about to tear the valley apart. Whispers on the wind, twirling in the mist, echoed down to the bottom of the valley, where the village of Midcopse slumbered, peaceful and unaware. A quiet river split the village in two and down to a lake, its dark depths barely moving. Trees swung limply in the breeze, ever watching the events unfold.
And up in the farmhouse, chaos unleashed.
Wheat crackled from the sudden heat and black smoke rose fast, blown down the valley by a sudden gale. Trees snapping from their roots were sent rocketing down the slopes, the first crushing a cottage on the village outskirts, others barrelling past down the main street. Water froze mid-stream, a heavy cracking sound echoing as ice formed, reaching the lake and freezing it solid. Thatch roofs started to catch fire, the black smoke bringing embers. Still no sound from the villagers, the church bell silent. Inside each house, they lay still with eyes frozen in horror, unable to move as their worlds burned around them. Soon the village lay in ashes, and the wind died down, letting ice crystals form on the cobbles, freezing the ashes in place.
The wind whistled as a lone figure descended from the sky, landing lightly in the town square. Shrouded in black, they stood still, listening to the whispers on the wind. Small balls of light started to flicker through the air, moving from under burnt beams and fallen stone, pulled towards the figure until they floated around them like fireflies. A pale hand swept out, palm facing upwards, fingers outstretched, drawing them all in until they coalesced, a solid ball of light filling the palm. Looking down, they breathed in the light, eyes shining beneath the hood for a moment before the light was gone.
Satisfied, they looked up to the Moon and nodded.
“Your turn, old friend.”