They’d left him only for a few minutes. He said he was tired so he sat on the old dentist’s chair to have a rest. They continued to search nearby but had spread out either side of the corridor so no-one could get him. Then there was the scream. They rushed back to find the chair empty and torn and piles of dust and plaster ripped from the walls. It had taken all of 10 seconds at the most and there was no sign of him whatsoever. Now they were only four of them left. Would they ever get out of this place and back to the sunlight?
The snowfall had been unexpected and fairly heavy. It was not unusual for a few inches to fall in a day but the blizzard had deposited nearly 2 feet of snow overnight, and it was even deeper where it had drifted or, to be more precise, had been blown by the wind.
He had been obliged to break his journey and find shelter in an abandoned barn during the storm. Now he was behind schedule and the deep snow that covered the track would make journeying onward much slower. However, he had no choice as he had a valuable cargo to deliver in his backpack. Many people were relying on him getting through to the outpost, and his return to his kinsfolk with the medicine would be eagerly watched for.
He kicked some snow into the morning fire to make sure it was extinguished, and placing a wad of tobacco into his cheek, he pulled on the heavy pack, tightened the straps and wearily headed West…
People had called him paranoid, and even mad when he had imported the ironworks and spent huge sums of money constructing the watchtower on the edge of his estate. They even went as far to call it his folly and suggest it would bankrupt him. Now, of course they saw that what he had constructed served a purpose, and for that they were grateful. They would soon forget though.
It was only because of the tower that the village was afforded sufficient warning to be saved. Or rather those who had listened were saved. Others, scoffing at what they thought were rantings of a madman, were not so lucky. The bright sunrise and calm sky belied the events of the night before. He had seen the signs of the impending attack and had manned the tower, safe in the knowledge that the silver cage built in the top that that been so costly would save both him and she who was so precious to him, his daughter. When he spied the ghostly riders on the horizon at sunset he sounded the alarm as he had promised to do. After all, they only ever attacked at night, as sunlight was their enemy.
Those in the village who heeded his sign had taken refuge where they could. Shutting themselves into deep cellars and being totally still was the only way to survive. Others, filled with fighting spirit and beer stood little chance. These were not mortal warriors and there was no blade in the armory that could cut them.
By morning the prophecy had passed. They would be safe for another ten generations, although the village would be counting the cost for at least two, and all would be forgotten after five. He wondered if the tower would still be standing when it would be needed again, his legacy for his descendants perhaps…