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In The Shadows of The Black Forest
Cyrus Baker was one of them. One of the four dozen sent to form a small colony deep in the woods of Maine in the year 1434. The heat was oppressive under the July sun as the forty-eight colonists walked or rode alongside the horse-led caravan which stored the worldly possessions of all of them. After being exiled under the threat of death from their former colony out of the fear of witchcraft, they journeyed north in the hopes of a free home. Mosquitos buzzed near the heads of the party, tasting blood with indiscrimination. Man, woman, child, the insects did not care. They only desired blood with which to mate.
The forest seemed to watch the group at night, coming alive with the sounds of wings, mewls, and a low noise akin to the wings of insects. The colonists slept soundly each night, even though their watch could tell there was something… off about the night air. During the daylight hours, the world was bright and waking, but at night, shadows encroached and snatched away the life replacing it with an intimidating kind of false life that threatened to let shadows into the minds of the waking colonists.
On the second week of their journey deep into the forests of Maine, they found a perfect clearing upon which to build their community. After five months of difficult, grueling work the colony was built. Well, to a basic degree. A well was dug, buildings constructed, and a wall built. Cyrus was the first to find it.
An immense, eldritch symbol had been carved into the gates of the small colony. A circle had been carved with small concentric circles within. A great X cut through the circle. The ends of the lines of the X looped about to form two semi-circles adjacent to the circle’s sides. The colonist’s high parishioner, Abraham moved to brush his hands across the symbol, he was torn asunder by a great, invisible force.
There was a grisly silence which fell upon the colonists. For the next month, another and another leader would die a grim and bloody death due to some invisible beast. The last to fall was the only hunter of the colonists who entered the surrounding forests to gather supplies with twenty able-bodied men. The last of the males in the colony. Bones were found, picked clean and carved with a message into the skulls of the unfortunate gatherers. ‘We open our arms to you.’
For months, the mothers of the growing children met in secret. The basement of the church was converted into a war room of sorts, with every member of the society carrying a knife or blade for fear of an attack. While in some instances, religion was invoked, it was all but forgotten as the community dismantled the church in a mad hunt for supplies to sustain them. Just as the last of the food disappeared, a hooded figure entered the community, pushing the gates open with the wave of a hand. She approached the small society of women who were focused on the protection of their group with a smile.
“I wish you no harm,” She said, holding her hands above her head.
“Why should we trust you, stranger?” Cyrus’s mother answered, brandishing a kitchen knife.
“Because I said so,” The stranger answered. That night, the woman was not trusted. Instead of accepting her offerings of safety and a community, the colonists killed her, leaving warnings to the surrounding, invisible enemies. Soon enough, their well dried up, leaving the colony with no food, supplies, or water. Death and famine encroached on the group. Finally, the children rebelled, forcing the cabal out of the colony. Three of them were left and considering cannibalism in the face of death, but then, they came. Magnificent and beautiful women who seemed to glow even in the shadows.
“We offer you survival, power, and life. In exchange, you join us,” The group of robed women smiled at the dying group.
“Yes, yes, anything, please!”
The hooded women smiled to each other and nodded. A day later, the colony that exiled the cabal vanished. Children and animals. Left, carved into the earth, 51 years before another colony would disappear were the words: