March 13 at 10:30 PM
Photo courtesy of Renaude Hatsedakis
The hunter dropped the cadaver, and sawed it open. "More seeds," he uttered. "No doubt this is a fabrication, but how did Enura plant so many so soon? Graveyards are scattered throughout town; even plots exist by the estate house. Surely we would have seen her."
"Perhaps they came with the rain," said Laurent.
"Seeding clouds would be impressive, but not feasible," Lawson replied. "Besides, why not just poison the rainwater?"
"I know from whence they came," said Deverrell.
"And so should you, just the same," said Dionte.
The hunter crossed his arms. "Well, speak."
"As you and Enura wandered the streets," said Deverrell.
"Arm in arm, cheek to cheek," said Dionte.
"I noticed a trickle fall from her hand," said Deverrell.
"Baby seedlings, tiny bits of sand," said Dionte.
"Surely you took notice, vampire hunter," they said as one.
"Surely I did not. Did you try collecting them?"
"With our mouths, a bit of fun," said Dionte.
"But they scurried away, before indulging our tongues," said Deverrell.
Lawson gazed at the five orbs in his pouch. "If they are indeed one in the same, only hours passed before they harvested. Could it be that a hint of water was all it took for them to engage a host, and rekindle the flame? If so, to what end?" He pulled the pouch shut.
"Oh, Sparky," a man howled, as a group of undead staggered after his dog. The mutt sprinted ahead with a moldering hand in its mouth, kicking mud in their faces.
Amused by the outburst, Lawson continued down the street, and noticed a pair of zombies devouring a sack of oats. "I can see where this leads, Laurent, and I fear they are beholden to a familiar design: first, consume all vegetation, then the crops and grains in the storehouses. Once this is done, slay the livestock and their owners, before ultimately, each other. It is a clever plan, orchestrated by a simple seed, but I sense it is merely a ruse."
"For the brambles?" said Laurent.
"Perhaps, but my heart says no," said Lawson. "Do I dare listen?"
A voice called in the distance.
"Wait." The hunter angled his head. "Is that your father?"
Lawson led his horse from the stable. "Come, and tread carefully with the bow."
The five walked down the street, careful not to encumber the cadavers as they stumbled by.
"My goodness, Lawson, what do you have in this thing?" Laurent clutched the crossbow with both hands.
"Rocks," he grinned. "Scores and scores of rocks."
As they approached, they caught sight of Lord Vangley pleading with a corpse atop a bench.
"Mother, get down from there!" The elder's voice echoed through the courtyard.
The cadaver gnawed on the last bit of the horse's head, snapping and clawing at her son. Catching the scent of the tiny morsel, zombies slowly closed in. Even her crippled husband wriggled forward without any legs.
"Should I ready the bow?" Laurent asked.
"Not under any circumstances. My lord, get out of there!" Lawson shouted.
Suddenly something exploded out of the ground, devouring the defiant corpse with splintered teeth.
"Mother!" Lord Vangley cried.
Taurus rose on two legs as more of the slimy beasts cracked through the cobblestone, and snapped up the wayward carcasses.
Lawson gasped. "Carrions."