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From the Journal of Estavan of Westmarch
Part 1 is found here:
Last night I came to realize with an unsettling level of understanding why Sagira had built her house the way that she had.
It was after sunset, and Sagira had finished preparing a modest broth on the hearth. The fire remained lit to keep out the chill, but it was slowly fading into embers. I sat at our single table sipping the broth and reading a tome by candlelight. Sagira had always been mindful to find me books to further my modest education.
My thoughts towards the words on the pages were interrupted however as a muttering approached our door. I daresay Sagira had noticed it first for by the time I had lifted my gaze from the book she was already standing by the door, her ear pressed against the thick layered planks of wood.
The tap was unusual and perhaps not like a tap at all. In so many ways it mimicked the sound of knocking, but it was far too quiet and subdued to be mistaken as such.
I heard the sound again and watched as Sagira lowered her hand along the door to about knee height. She waited.
Sagira pulled her hand away from the wood reflexively. She called out to the would be person on the other side of the door, demanding a name. An indiscernible muttering came from the other side of the wood and then for a moment all was silent. The door had a simple latch that held it shut, but there was a much larger and sturdier dead bolt which Sagira rarely used to bar the door. On this occasion did so.
Came the noise again and once again Sagira called out for a name, yet even as she did so she was moving across the room. She picked up the half filled pot of broth and poured it on the few flames that remained in the fire. My heart and stomach both sank as I saw the food wasted, but the sensation quickly turned to a chilling in my spine as a voice spoke up from the other side of the door.
It was odd. The pitch was high like a child's, yet garbled like a drunk's. Sagira took notice but did not flinch from her task. She pulled the iron gate across the face of the fire-pit, and sealed the hearth. We had only the flames of our candles to give light.
*tap tap* "O. Pin."
Came the rapping and the voice again. Sagira opened her private chest in the corner of the room and removed a long dagger and a sword which I had often seen her carry when traveling beyond the outskirts of the village. In this moment she handed the dagger to me and motioned me to my bed. She pushed the table against the wall and set aside a single chair in the middle of the room.
*tap tap* "O. Pin."
She sat down in the chair and blew out the candles. She waited there, facing the door, making nary a sound nor flinching any muscle. I was thoroughly uncertain of what to make of the situation, but anything that caused Sagira concern caused me concern as well.
As our eyes became adjusted to the darkness with but the faintest beams of moonlight filtering through the thick glassed windows, we continued to hear the tiny rapping sounds upon the door, and the constant requests to "Open".
In my mind I could only imagine a lost child pounding his or her first on the wood, but on an instinctual level my conscience couldn't quite accept the belief that it was a child's voice I was hearing.
*tap tap* "O. Pin"
There was further muttering beyond our walls. At one point I swore the light of a torch passed beneath a window, which would have been odd because most men would have been holding a torch at a higher height.
Through the night the sounds persisted and at some point I must have drifted off to sleep.
* * *
When at last I awoke Sagira was still sitting in the middle of the room facing the door like a statue. Her stillness bothered me. Early rays of sunlight had begun to shine through the heavy windows as I stood upand approached her.
My heart nearly jumped from my chest as she flinched at my touch. I wondered if she had fallen asleep with her eyes open, but if so she didn't let on. An hour passed before we finally opened the heavy door.
The ground in front of the threshold was too trampled down to discern anything, but all along the perimeter of the house were tiny child sized foot prints. Sagira gathered her gear and we checked the rest of the grounds around our home, finding more footprints but little else.
Later in the day we learned that one of our neighbors, a local farmer with livestock had lost several of his pigs in the night to wolves or at least so he thought.
I looked at the wooden houses of our neighbors, and I must admit that I feel somewhat safer sleeping in the house that Sagira built.
Thank you for reading. If you enjoyed please consider giving the story a positive rating by clicking the Like button.
Edited by Lõri on 3/12/2012 3:49 PM PDT
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