The cobbled road wound across a rise in the land that caused the wind to make Peggy hunker
into her poncho and pull her hat low over her face. The icy blasts told of some more rain-cum
-sleet ahead and the old Witch mumbled foul language under her breath at the cold-blowing gusts.
Apart from a couple of leaning cedars that struggled with the elements, the raised ground was bare
except for the man-made structure Peggy drew near to in her journey.
The small shrine that fluttered with weathered-rags of sympathy and adoration lay on the roadside
and fallen victim to the eternal gale that swept up from the valley where the village of Solomon’s Pond resided.
The wooden alter was box-shaped and sported a tar-painted roof. Whitewash had made sure
that the panelled walls would not fall foul to the weather and as Peggy peered closer, she saw that
whoever had built the reliquary, had gone to the expense of putting a glass door across it’s front.
The shards of that door now lay like diamonds on Caulder’s Way -along with the fallen shrine itself.
“Yer’ canna expect nuthin’ else iffin’ yer’ ganna’ put it in the mouth of the wind” Peggy muttered and
began putting the shrine into a more reasonable position.
The strips of coloured cloth flapped as if the wind disagreed with the Witch’s decision and lifting
the scared casket of prayer, Peggy saw why the shrine had been placed in such a desolate place.
This was about Vampyres, the alter was supposed to ward the blood-takers from the town of it’s
builders and with the sight of the faded rosary-beads and corn-dolly hanging from the inner-walls
of the shrine, Peggy would wager that it would keep most gouls-of-the-throat away.
Stepping onto the verge where the structure was originally placed, the Witch of Underhill saw that
the wind was not at fault for the venerated coffer’s destruction. Someone had pulled the shrine from
it’s wooden post. And with venom.
“Whey, yer’ bugger…” Peggy whispered. “…It looks like ‘ah’ve got a live-one” and turned to view
the small suburb of Solomon’s Pond.
The stunted-lake that had been favoured with a dubious legend of how some enormous giant had
created it, shimmered in the late-afternoon sun that had valiantly broken through the scudding-grey
clouds. Peggy trudged along the cart-track that skirted the water and murmured a prayer of thanks
to be out of the wind.
The shrine had told her many things about the beast that sought nourishment from the living and
one of the clues was that the Vampyre was once a resident of the town. Peggy had seen the water
-stained letter that had been stuffed into the back of the alter and struggling with the faded-words
and that cursed-wind wishing to tear the epistle away from her, she had discovered that the goul
had left a widow.
A widow that had known a man called Juno Boggs.
“Remember…” came her Mother’s words “…they may be monsters, but they were once men”
Peggy’s eyes narrowed in cunning as she came out from under the leaf-less trees and stepped
into the town of Solomon’s Pond.
Even if the traces of winter were attempting to settle itself into the surrounding countryside,
the sun-touched mainstreet gave an impression of a calm early-spring afternoon as the
residents of Solomon’s Pond privately prepared themselves for another night in the valley.
Peggy searched the closed wooden doors of the grey-stone buildings along the narrow
road for the clues her Mother had imparted to her long ago and yet, it was with a wary-eye.
Just incase someone was monitoring her movement.
The Witch’s mind wanted to roam to ponder on where she was going to spend the night
as she glanced at the painted entrances and chipped window frames, but Ms. Powler
forced her attention back to scouring the surfaces of the homes for the markings of Juno
The ball of light and heat that had fought the good-fight to peer through the clouds had
begun it’s descent towards the west as Peggy turned onto Hobbs Lane and seeing the
odd latern appearing in the curtained-windows, she knew she didn’t have much time left.
“Are yer’ shaman…?” a voice asked softly from the slightly-opened window above her.
“…Is yer’ gift fur’ sale, Missy?” the woman spoke in the quietness of the early-evening.
Peggy’s shoulders tightened as the words reached her ears, she had passed the house
where the voice had come from and had thought she’d seen a movement or shape.
The Witch had also seen the sign of the twilight-visitor and deemed it canny not to tarry.
‘If the she was wanted, they will ask’ -had been her Mother’s slurred watch-words and once
more, the black-haired Tarot Reader of Peggy’s past had been proven correct.
The tone sounded desperate, but so was Peggy’s wish to be in out of tonight’s possible
foul elements. Whether they’d be rain or Vampyres.
The woman was around twenty years-old and if the Gods had been a little kinder with
their designing, she could have been called ‘ordinary’
“Aye lady, ah’ have the touch to see beyond the veil and fur’ a small use of yer’ hearthstone,
ah’ will tell yer’ what lies ahead” Peggy said and surveyed the face at the window.
It was the nose that let her down Peggy decided as -with the door creaking open, she
stepped inside and felt the fire’s warmth immediately. The young woman with the penknife
of a proboscis had rushed to pull a seat nearer the hearth and as Peggy clicked the door’s
latch closed, the seer imagined what she would have looked like without the big conk.
“I’m in need of yer’ services, if I don’t talk to someone, I’ll go moonstruck” the fidgety
female in the widow’s dress said as she patted the beige material of the comfortable
-looking chair. “My name is Betty…” she announced as her guest accepted the seat.