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Teodor watched Bilge escorted the last drinker out of the Pit. He locked the door and turned around. Teodor took a deep breath. “You ready?”
Bilge lit a cigar. “I have to get somethings. Albrecht will be here soon.”
Gunner came downstairs. He spun a knife in his hand. “Can I come?”
“Why?” Teodor asked.
“Because she killed a lot of kids I care about. I want to pay her back.”
Teodor glanced at Bilge. “I don't think that's a good idea.”
Bilge tapped the end of his cigar into a full ashtray. “Why not? He's not a child anymore.”
“Because it's a Hag, not some crazy woman,” Teodor said.
“So I went after my first demon at his age,” Bilge said.
“Teodor, you can be born special like Albrecht or like me, learn,” Bilge said.
“I want to learn,” Gunner said.
Teodor shook his head, but he said, “Sure, you watch him.”
Bilge motioned to Gunner. “Come with me.”
Teodor took a seat at the bar as Bilge and Gunner went back upstairs. Amanda squeezed by them, as she came downstairs. She came over to Teodor and rubbed his shoulders.
“I want you to be careful,” she said.
“I will. You watch Trucker.”
“Just let her try to hurt him.”
“I hope we can find her child.”
Amanda stopped rubbing his shoulder. “How could she do that? Kill her own child and in such a horrible way.”
“Trucker said she skinned her baby.”
Teodor squeezed her hands. “Sometimes after an animal has her litter, she will kill them. It's the same with humans.”
“Some people don't deserve kids,” Amanda said.
“We never talked about it,” Teodor said.
Amanda sat next to Teodor. “I know.”
“Do you think this town could handle a pack?”
Amanda smiled. “You serious?”
“Yeah, Having Trucker around has kind of made me want to have our own kids,” Teodor said. “or puppies.”
Amanda hugged him. “Thank you.”
“This place is too small for a family,” Teodor said.
“I know we will get our own place.” Amanda kissed him.
He kissed her back. The phone at the bar rang. Amanda sighed. “I'll get it.”
She went behind the bar to answer the phone. Bilge and Gunner came back downstairs. Amanda hung up the phone. “That was Albrecht, he will meet you at the workhouse.”
Bilge grabbed the truck keys off the hook behind the bar. “Then let's go. Amanda, there's rock salt-”
“In the mop closet, I know. I'll spread it around.”
Teodor kissed her, then followed Bilge and Gunner outside.
The stars filled the sky above, there were no clouds, and the temperature had not dropped. Teodor took in a deep breath of the crisp smell of the air.
A night like this would have been the type of night his family would have released a few prisoners to make a run to freedom. None of them ever made it. But now Teodor could see why they picked a night like this one. The lack of wind would keep the scent in the air longer. The full moon would shine down and the snow would reflect the light, making the woods as bright as a cloudy day. If you had to hunt, a night like this one would be perfect.
In the cab of the truck, Gunner sat between Bilge and Teodor. He held a metal pendulum above his other hand. It swung back and forth, then changed direction and swung in circled.
“This is neat,” Gunner said.
Bilge turned on to the main street. “It will help us find dead people.”
“Do you think Trucker is gonna be alright?” Teodor asked.
Bilge nodded. “He will be.”
A while later, He pulled into the side road that lead to the workhouses. He drove the truck in a a few yards and parked it next to a red sports car. Albrecht got out of the car as soon as Bilge turned off the engine.
“I don't think we will staying here long,” Albrecht said.
“I want to start at the cemetery,” Bilge said.
“Amanda said most of it was unmarked,” Teodor said.
“It is, but Bilge and I have already found most of it.” Albrecht pointed to the tree line to his right. “That direction.”
Albrecht lead them into the snowy woods. He climbed down a small hill, then stopped.
“I think this was the spot,” he said.
Bilge asked Gunner for the pendulum. He held it with his one hand. The pendulum swung back and forth, then stopped.
“Point to me,” Bilge said. The pendulum swung out to one side, pointing to Bilge.
“Point to Teodor.”
The pendulum swung to the middle, then pointed to Teodor.
“How are you doing that?” Teodor asked.
“Anyone can do this with enough practice,” Bilge said. “Find Elizabeth Swift's child's grave.”
The pendulum swung in a circle, then began to swing back and forth. It rose up, pointing to the south. Albrecht smiled. “I knew this was the right place.”
Bilge walked ahead of them, checking the pendulum as they walked into a wooded area. Teodor felt the hair on the back of his head rise up. He paused.
“What is it?” Albrecht asked.
“Something's not right.”
“Just warn me if you are going to change.”
Albrecht gave Teodor a strange look. Teodor sniffed the air. “I don't smell anything odd, but I feel it.”
“Then we must be close,” Bilge said.
The snow on the ground covered any clues of a disturbed grave. Bilge stopped. The pendulum swung in a circle, then back and for the changing directions.
“Here?” Bilge asked.
The pendulum stopped and the chain went taunt. Bilge pointed to the ground. “Here.”
Albrecht walked around the spot. He held his hands out in front of him. After he closed his eyes, he said. “Yes, they came here in the spring. Found the grave the same way.”
He raised his arm and pointed back to the road. “They left that way.”
“Anything else?” Bilge asked.
“I can't make out their conversation.”
Gunner sighed. “So we came all the way out here to find out what we already know,”
“We have to follow the trail from the beginning,” Albrecht said.
Teodor stared into the dark woods. He could feel a presence like another predator had come too close to his place of rest. “I feel her. She's watching us.”
Gunner looked around. “Where?”
“She could be anywhere,” Bilge said.
Albrecht pointed in the direction of the river. “I saw where they went, come on.” He walked in the same direction.
“Shouldn't we go back to our cars?” Bilge asked.
“No need, there is a short cut.”
Bilge grabbed Albrecht. “Are you sure?”
Albrecht rubbed his head. “Sorry, I forget. I can get disoriented.”
They went back to the cars. Teodor fell behind, he could still feel the Hag in the woods. He couldn't think of referring to the Hag as Elizabeth. Using her real name didn't see fitting. The way she killed those kids, she would always be the Hag.
Bilge guided Albrecht to the truck. “You better not drive.”
Teodor got a good look at Albrecht's face. His eyes were white. Bilge sighed.
“Not enough room for all of us in the cab.” He motioned with his head to the truck.
“Give me a minute.” Teodor went behind the truck and took off his clothes. He changed into his wolf form, grabbed his clothes with his mouth and padded back to the rest.
Gunner chuckled. He opened the door to the cab. Teodor jumped inside, dropping his clothes on the back of the seat. Bilge helped Albrecht into the truck. Teodor laid down on the floor, next to Gunner's feet.
“Where to now?” Bilge asked.
“Go to the river, by the Lower Bridge,” Albrecht said.
That's the way to Greenwoods, Teodor thought. Perun felt her there too. He felt a growl form in his throat. But if she was there, she would not be after any other children.